TheCompetition and Markets AuthorityThe CMA has issued fines of more than PS260 million to those who have violated competition law in relation to the supply and distribution of hydrocortisone tablets.

CMA investigated the conduct of several pharmaceutical companies and found that the fines were a result.Auden MckenzieAndActavis UK(Now known asAccord-UK() Charged theNHSFor almost a decade, hydrocortisone tablets have been at astronomical prices.

Auden Mckenzie paid off potential competitors to protect its position of sole supplier of tablets and allow it to keep increasing prices.AMCo(now known asAdvanz Pharma()Waymadeto remain out of the market. After taking over hydrocortisone tablet sales in 2015, Actavis UK continued to pay AMCo.

Hydrocortisone tablets are used to treat adrenal insufficiency. This includes life-threatening conditions like Addison’s Disease.

Andrea CoscelliChief executive of the CMA stated that these are “without doubt the most severe abuses we’ve seen in recent years.” These actions cost the NHS and taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds.

“The NHS was forced to spend huge amounts of taxpayers’ money to save lives by Auden Mckenzie’s decision in raising the prices of de-branded drugs. The NHS was once being charged more than PS80 for one pack of tablets, which had previously been less expensive than PS1.

“These were serious violations of the law that artificially inflated the NHS’s costs and reduced the amount available for patient care. This fine is a warning to all other drug companies that plan to exploit the NHS.

A spokesperson for Accord Healthcare stated that they were very disappointed by CMA’s decision. We have not done anything but to reduce the price despite having inherited the product in January 2017.

“Accord Healthcare’s case against us is flawed in law and factual. We are considering all options and will appeal the decision.