UK steroid price collusion probe ends in $360M fines

July 16, 2021

UK's competition regulator has fined more than 10 drug companies a combined $360 million for overcharging the National Health Service (NHS) for a steroid which rose over 10,000% in price.

For years, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating drugmakers for price hikes on single packs of 10 mg and 20 mg hydrocortisone tablets that occurred from 2008 to 2016.

According to the CMA, the companies engaged in practices including buying potential rivals to keep their versions off the market, increasing the price of hydrocortisone, and paying off competition over the years. 

Of the list of drugmakers called out, two — Auden Mckenzie and Actavis UK (now Accord UK)— will pay the bulk of the fines, approximately $305.5 million. The CMA claims that Auden Mckenzie, the only provider of the drug for several years, acquired generic rights and then paid potential competitors to stay off the market. Accord-UK was responsible for Auden Mckenzie’s conduct because of a buyout deal in 2015.

Three companies named in CMA's statement, Waymade, Accord, and Advanz, told  Reuters via email they disagreed with the regulator's decision and would appeal against the fines.