The Hindu Business Line

Actavis UK raised drug prices 12,000%, finds watchdog

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Drug maker Actavis UK broke competitio­n law by raising prices of hydrocorti­sone tablets by more than 12,000 per cent, Britain's competitio­n watchdog said in a provisiona­l ruling on Friday.

Higher prices meant the tablets cost Britain's National Health Service (NHS) about £70 million ($87 million) last year, up from about £522,000 previously, the CMA said.

The company raised prices of 10 mg hydrocorti­sone tablets by more than 12,000 per cent compared to the price they were sold at by another company before April 2008, the Competitio­n and Markets Authority (CMA) said.

It raised the price of 20 mg hydrocorti­sone tablets by nearly 9,500 per cent, the CMA said. The 10-mg tablets which cost the NHS 70p each in April 2008 cost £88 by March 2016, it found. The tablets are used for hormone replacemen­t therapies in people whose adrenal glands do not produce sufficient amounts of natural steroid hormones.

Actavis UK's former parent Allergan Plc was created by a $66-billion merger that saw Dublin-based Actavis acquire Botox maker Allergan Inc in November 2014 and change its name to the latter.

Israel's Teva Pharmaceut­ical Industries bought the company in a $40.5-billion deal that closed in August. Teva confirmed that Actavis UK had received a statement of objection from the CMA and that it would defend itself against the allegation­s. “Although the pricing of the acquired Actavis product, Hydrocorti­sone, under investigat­ion was never under Teva's effective control, Teva believes that interventi­on by the CMA in prices for generic medicines raises serious policy concerns regarding the roles of both the CMA and the Department of Health,” the company said in an emailed statement.

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