The Government has accused two English pharmaceutical firms of trying to illegally make an extra £2million per year from the NHS.
Medicine suppliers Auden Mckenzie and Waymade allegedly set up an agreement to inflate the price of a life-saving steroid.
The Competition and Markets Authority today claimed Auden Mckenzie paid Waymade to not sell certain tablets so it could demand a higher price from the NHS.
As a result, the cost to the health service for 20mg hydrocortisone tablets reportedly almost doubled from £46 to £90 for a single pack of 30.
The CMA revealed the results of its investigation today and the companies could be fined more than £1million each if found guilty. Waymade has denied the claims.
Auden Mckenzie is believed to have paid Waymade not put its own 20mg hydrocortisone tablets on the market.
This meant the former, which is registered in Barnstaple, Devon, became the sole supplier and could charge the NHS higher prices because the health service couldn’t get the drug elsewhere.
The arrangement constitutes ‘anti-competitive’ behaviour, and meant NHS spending on hydrocortisone rose from £1.7m to £3.7 per year between 2011 and 2015, the CMA said.
Hydrocortisone is a steroid used to treat a wide range of health problems.