The UK’s competition watchdog has imposed fines totalling more than £260m on pharmaceutical companies after an investigation found that they overcharged the NHS for hydrocortisone tablets for almost a decade.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that the drug’s makers Auden Mckenzie and Actavis UK, now known as Accord-UK, used their position as the sole providers of hydrocortisone to inflate the price of the drug. Tens of thousands of people in the UK depend on hydrocortisone tablets to treat adrenal insufficiency, which includes life-threatening conditions such as Addison’s disease, the CMA said.
The investigation found that the companies were able to inflate the price of hydrocortisone tablets by more than 10,000% compared with the original branded version on sale in 2008. This meant the amount the NHS had to pay for a single pack of 10mg tablets rose from 70p in April 2008 to £88 by March 2016.