A British regulator has fined Pfizer $106 million for increasing the price of their epilepsy drug by 2,600 percent. Pfizer is just one of the many pharmaceutical companies that has been criticized for increasing its prices. Pfizer allegedly broke the law by charging unfair and excessive price. The company has denied the allegations and stated that they will appeal.
It is estimated that 48,000 people in Britain use the phenytoin sodiumcapsules to prevent and control seizures. The price of the drug used to be $3.57 for 100-milligram packets. The price was increased to $85.06. In May 2014, the price decreased to $68.04.
Britain’s National Health Service has spent a lot more money on the drug. In 2012, the company spent $2.5 million on the drug. They spent $63 million on the drug in 2013.
Many of the epilespy patients who had been using the phenytoin sodiumcapsules prior to the price hike choose not to switch. That is why the health service was forced to spend more money on the drug.
According to the Chairman And Market Authority, this is the highest fine that they have ever imposed. However, they have stated that the reason they have imposed this fine is to crack down on businesses who overcharge people. They also want to protect consumers.
What Pfizer is Doing to Off-set the Fine
Businesses typically have the freedom to set their prices to whatever they like. However, Peter Marsden, who is the chairman of the Chairman and Market Authority, has stated that businesses often abuse this freedom. That is why the CMA decided to investigate Pfizer.
Pfizer was given one to four months to reduce the price of the drug. They were told that they can set the price high enough to make a profit, but the pricing cannot be excessive. Pfizer has refuted all of the claims that have been made about CMA.
A representative from Pfizer has stated that the British regulator has left out a lot of important facts. For example, they stated that alternative drugs that are used to treat epilepsy are more expensive than phenytoin sodiumcapsules. Flynn Pharma, LTD, which is another pharmaceutical company that was fined along with Pfizer, stated that they feel like they are being punished for trying to sell the drug at a lower cost. In fact, both Pfizer and Flynn have stated that the phenytoin and sodiumcapsules cost 25 to 40 percent less than what the alternative drugs cost.
Pfizer was investigated around the same time that a pharmaceutical company named Mylan was fined. This company was criticized for hiking the price of an Epipen, which is a life-saving drug that is administered when one is having an allergic reaction. In 2009, the drug only cost $100 for a two-pack. The price was increased to $600 for a two-pack.
Turing Pharmaceuticals is another company that has been criticized for its high prices. Martin Shkreli, who is the CEO of the company, has also been criticized. They were caught raising the price of a drug that is used to treat infections in patients whose immune systems have been weakened by AIDs and cancer from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
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