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- 05/16/2017

Aspen Faces EU Antitrust Probe Over Pricing of Cancer Drugs

Pharma Horizon


EU Regulators will investigate whether Aspen Pharmacare charged excessively for medicines: “When the price of a drug suddenly goes up by several hundred percent, this is something the commission may look at,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in an emailed statement.

As consequences the EU has, for the first time ever, opened an investigation for excessively high pricing: “More specifically, in this case we will be assessing whether Aspen is breaking EU competition rules by charging excessive prices for a number of medicines.”, as explained by  Margrethe Vestager.

The five generic medicines involved – chlorambucil, melphalan, mercaptopurine, tioguanine and busulfan – are used to treat cancer,  including hematologic tumours, and sold in different formulations and under multiple brand names. Aspen acquired them after initial patents expired.

The EU can impose fines of as much as 10 percent of a company’s yearly revenue.Aspen said in a statement that “takes compliance with competition laws very seriously and will work constructively with the European Commission in its process”.
Brussels will also look at allegations that in order to impose its price rises, Aspen “threatened to withdraw the medicines in question in some member states and has actually done so in certain cases”.The probe covers all of the European economic area except Italy where the country’s antitrust authority fined the company 5 million euros ($5.5 million) last year for raising prices on cancer drugs by as much as 1,500 percent starting in 2014. That related to an anti-tumor drug package Aspen bought from GlaxoSmithKline Plc., a former shareholder.

Source: Financial Times, Bloomberg, The Times