A drug company has been accused of ripping off the NHS to a massive extent by whacking up the price of a not particularly glamorous thyroid treatment, by increasing the pack cost from £4.46 to £258.19 over the course of a decade.
The drug in question is liothyronine, manufactured by Canadian company Concordia. It's not even a protected formulation either, as the patent has expired -- but it just so happens that Concordia has manoeuvred itself into the position of dominant supplier and de-branded the product so it's now considered a generic drug. Which means it can charge more under NHS rules, because the health service only places cost limits on branded products.
Hence the amount the NHS has paid the company for the drug has risen from £600,000 in 2007 to a massive £34m in 2016. The Competition and Markets Authority is investigating the situation, with exec Andrea Coscelli saying: "Pharmaceutical companies which abuse their position and overcharge for drugs are forcing the NHS – and the UK taxpayer – to pay over the odds for important medical treatments. We allege that Concordia used its market dominance in the supply of liothyronine tablets to do exactly that."
The findings are currently provisional they are keen to point out, as accusing massive overseas pharma giants of bad practise without being 100 per cent certain is a little risky, legally speaking. [GOV via FT]