UK watchdog fines Pfizer, Flynn Pharma $84 million for overcharging NHS

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FILE PHOTO: People pose with syringe with needle in front of displayed Pfizer logo

By Sinchita Mitra

(Reuters) -Pfizer and Flynn Pharma were fined a total of 70 million pounds ($84 million) on Thursday by Britain's antitrust watchdog for overcharging the National Health Services (NHS) for a life-saving epilepsy drug.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2016 had fined Pfizer and Flynn about 90 million pounds for inflating prices for Epanutin by as much as 2,600% to 67.50 pounds for a 100mg pack before the companies won a 2018 appeal against the penalty.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal had referred the matter back to the CMA, which in August 2021 stuck to its view that the two firms broke the law.

In September 2012, Pfizer sold the UK distribution rights for Epanutin to Flynn. Before that, Pfizer was selling phenytoin sodium capsules to UK wholesalers and pharmacies.

Both Pfizer and Flynn Pharma said they intend to appeal the CMA decision.

"Surprised and disappointed at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issuance of a further (second) Decision finding an abuse of competition law on the part of Flynn," the company said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

Epanutin is a life-saving drug which is used to control a variety of epileptic conditions, or prevent seizures during or after brain surgery or severe head injury.

The regulator added that the firms have been overcharging for more than four years.

It said that spending by Britain's NHS on the capsules, containing phenytoin sodium, jumped to about 50 million pounds in 2013 from about 2 million pounds a year earlier.

($1 = 0.8372 pounds)

(Reporting by Sinchita Mitra in Bengaluru; editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Jason Neely)