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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today alleged that two pharmaceutical companies, Concordia and Actavis UK, signed illegal agreements that enabled high prices for a life-saving drug to be prolonged.

It has provisionally found that both companies broke competition law by entering into agreements under which Actavis UK incentivised Concordia not to enter the market with its own competing version of hydrocortisone tablets.

The CMA also alleges that Actavis UK abused its dominant position by inducing Concordia to delay its independent entry into the market.

Andrew Groves, CMA senior officer, said the findings are provisional “and no conclusion should be drawn at this stage that there has in fact been any breach of competition law.”

He added:

Anti-competitive agreements can cost the NHS, and ultimately the taxpayer, by stopping competition bringing down the cost of lifesaving drugs like hydrocortisone tablets.

We allege these agreements were intended to keep Actavis UK as the sole supplier of a drug relied on by thousands of patients – and in a position which could allow it to dictate and prolong high prices.

The UK arm of Actavis was recently sold by Israel’s Teva to Intas of India, while Amdipharm was acquired by Canada’s Concordia.

Neither Concordia or Intas could be contacted for comment.

Reporting: Sarah Neville and Jennifer Thompson.

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