The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said drug maker
The watchdog said their moves saw the cost to the NHS of phenytoin sodium capsules rocket from around 2 million a year in 2012 to about 50 million in 2013 far more than
The CMA has also ordered both firms to reduce their prices for the anti-epilepsy drug.
The CMA said that before
Both firms then each ramped up the price of the drug, meaning that overnight the NHS saw the cost surge by between 2,300% and 2,600%, according to the CMA.
It said the NHS at one stage saw the price of 100mg packs of the drug jump from 2.83 to 67.50.
The NHS had no alternative but to pay, as epilepsy patients who are already taking phenytoin sodium capsules should not usually be switched to other products due to the risk of loss of seizure control.
These extraordinary price rises have cost the NHS and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds.
He added: This is the highest fine the CMA has imposed and it sends out a clear message to the sector that we are determined to crack down on such behaviour and to protect customers, including the NHS, and taxpayers from being exploited.
The CMA said
Both firms have now been given up to four months to reduce their prices, to ensure there is no risk to the supply of the drug to patients who rely on it.
The CMA said the firms could charge prices which are profitable, but they must not be excessive and unfair.
The fine comes after
It said its distribution rights deal with Flynn Pharma in
In this transaction, and in all of our business operations, we approached this divestment with integrity, and believe it fully complies with established competition law, it said.
The group added the increased price of the drug was still 25 per cent to 40 per cent lower than the cost of an equivalent medicine by another supplier to the NHS.
Flynn Pharma said it will also appeal against the decision.
David Fakes, chief executive of Flynn Pharma, said: We believe that left unchallenged, the CMAs decision today would stunt investment in generics, eventually leading to a reduction in supply and less choice for doctors and patients.
It is a matter of common interest for us to appeal and see this decision overturned.
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