Branded pharma condemns UK generic price hiking

The UK’s branded pharma trade group has condemned price hiking of generic drugs as “cynical and exploitative” after a newspaper investigation showed a small number of businesses have used the strategy to boost profits.

According to an investigation by The Times, businesses owned by Vijay and Bhikhu Patel hiked the price paid by the National Health Service for some generic drugs by up to 12,500%.

The investigation found that the business impose high prices on drugs by dropping an existing brand name and selling under a generic name instead.

Among 32 drugs having their prices hiked were the steroid hydrocortisone, the anti-anxiety drug doxepin and the nausea drug cylizine.

This tactic has raised the cost of medicines by £262 million per year, the newspaper said. The pricing strategy is similar to that seen in the US, which has led to investigations of pharma companies including Valeant and Turing Pharma by US authorities.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said the UK government can question pricing decisions through the Competition and Markets Authority, which has wide powers to deal with “market abuses”.

Dr Richard Torbett, executive director commercial at the ABPI, said the “cynical and exploitative” pricing “does not reflect the values of our members who are focused on researching and developing new medicines to meet the medical needs of NHS patients.”

He added the ABPI is “in discussion with government about how best to ensure appropriate pricing throughout the system.

“Any future policy decisions in this area should rightly take into account the needs of the NHS, and also provide flexibility that companies need in order to continue to supply medicines.”

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