The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has unanimously upheld the CMA’s finding that pharmaceutical suppliers charged excessive and unfair prices over a decade for hydrocortisone tablets.
In a judgment the CAT found that between 2008 and 2018 Auden/Actavis UK abused their dominant position in this market, increasing prices of hydrocortisone by over 10,000 per cent compared to the original branded version of the drug. Between April 2008 and March 2016, prices paid by the NHS for a pack of 10mg tablets rose from 70p to £72.
The CMA found that Auden/Actavis made an illegal profit of at least £145 million from the excessive prices. The Tribunal agreed with the CMA that there was no justification for these price increases or for the high prices Actavis UK (now Accord-UK) continued to charge after competitors began to enter the market. The companies have been fined almost £130 million.
The Tribunal found ‘an illegitimate exploitation of market power to leverage prices well in excess of what was fair’, and that the businesses involved committed the abuses intentionally by colluding with potential competitors.
In total the CMA imposed fines totalling £266.5 million for these infringements covering its abuse of dominance and its collusion findings. This judgment deals only with the abuse of dominance findings. The Tribunal has reserved its judgment in relation to the appeal against the CMA’s findings on collusion.
These are the highest ever CMA penalties upheld by the Tribunal.