By Sammie Jones-
Two suppliers of the antidepressant, nortriptyline, have admitted illegally sharing information in order to keep prices up.
The admission comes after a competition law investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into drug firms King Pharmaceuticals Limited, Alissa Healthcare Research Limited and Lexon (UK) Limited.
The CMA issued a statement of objections in June 2019 provisionally finding that the 3 suppliers had exchanged commercially sensitive information about prices, volumes and entry plans in order to keep prices up. However, investigators say that no conclusion should be drawn with respect to an infringement of competition law at this stage and the addressees of the Statement of Objections will now have the opportunity to respond to the allegations.
The CMA said it would consider any representations it receives before any decision is taken as to whether competition law has in fact been infringed.
Nortriptyline is prescribed by the NHS and relied on by thousands of patients every month to relieve the symptoms of depression. NHS spending on the drug peaked at £38 million in 2015.
King and Alissa have now admitted breaking competition law by exchanging strategic and competitively-sensitive information with one another and with Lexon during periods between 2015 and 2017.
The CMA’s investigation into Lexon is ongoing as the firm denies involvement in the suspected infringement. Therefore, any infringement decision – which could lead to a fine – would be made at the end of the investigation.