U.K. authorities say Actavis broke competition law with 'excessive and unfair prices' on a generic

London
Officials in the U.K. are taking issue with huge price hikes, now targeting Actavis for a 12,000% increase.

For the second time this month, officials in the U.K. there are taking issue with huge price hikes. The country's Competition and Markets Authority, which earlier this month hit Pfizer with a $108 million fine, now accuses Actavis of breaking competition law and jacking up a generic's price by 12,000%.

Actavis, which Teva bought this summer for $40.5 billion, jacked the price of its 10mg hydrocortisone tablets up by 12,000% over a period of 8 years, officials in the U.K. say. Since it’s a generic, the lifesaving drug isn’t subject to price regulations in the country.

Teva is in the process of divesting the U.K. business as mandated to India's Intas, a spokesperson told FiercePharma. Nonetheless, the company “intends to defend the allegations." 

For thousands of patients in the U.K., hydrocortisone tablets serve as the primary replacement therapy for adrenal insufficiency. Actavis also increased the price of its 20mg tablets by 9,500% leading up to March of this year, according to the Competition and Markets Authority.

All told, the government’s expenses on the meds grew to £70 million a year by 2015, up from about £522,000 annually before April 2008.

“We allege that the company has taken advantage of this situation and the removal of the drug from price regulation, leaving the NHS–and ultimately the taxpayer–footing the bill for the substantial price rises,” Andrew Groves, a senior official in charge of the case, said in a statement.

CMA issued its new allegations just weeks after the agency came down on Pfizer, saying the pharma executed a licensing deal on an unprofitable drug to trigger a 2,600% price hike. The agency fined Pfizer about $108 million; the company said it would appeal.

Groves in a statement said CMA’s findings on Teva “are provisional and no conclusion should be drawn at this stage that there has in fact been any breach of competition law.”

As authorities crack down on price hikes in the U.K., companies are eager to see how the drug pricing issue will play out in the U.S. with the election of Donald Trump. Stocks initially soared following Trump’s win, but the president-elect told Time he intends to “bring down drug prices” earlier this month, sinking shares.