U.K. competition authority targets 'illegal' deals between Actavis, Concordia

Competition watchdogs in the U.K. are alleging Actavis and Concordia entered "illegal" deals to delay competition for hydrocortisone tablets.

The allegations are adding up against the former Actavis unit in the U.K. A couple of months after competition watchdogs took issue with a 12,000% price hike on hydrocortisone tablets, authorities are rolling out new claims the company entered “anticompetitive” and “illegal” agreements on the med.

The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority on Friday said agreements by Actavis and Concordia delayed competition for the drug, used by thousands of patients in the U.K. as a primary replacement therapy for adrenal insufficiency.

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Israel’s Teva bought Actavis for $40.5 billion last summer and subsequently offloaded the U.K. outfit as mandated by antitrust authorities. In an email today, Teva said that while it received the CMA complaint, Actavis UK "has never in practice been controlled by Teva due to the hold separate obligation to the European Commission."

Accord Healthcare, a subsidiary of India's Intas, recently picked up the generics portfolio in a deal worth about $767 million.

Related: India's Intas buys U.K. business and plant Teva is unloading

Between January 2013 and June 2016, Actavis “incentivised Concordia not to enter the market with its own competing version,” according to the U.K. watchdogs. In a statement, CMA Senior Responsible Officer Andrew Groves stressed the “findings are provisional and no conclusion should be drawn at this stage that there has in fact been any breach of competition law.”

The companies will have a chance to respond.

CMA’s new allegations come in addition to claims brought in December that Actavis broke competition law with “excessive and unfair pricing” on hydrocortisone tablets, which authorities said spiked in price by 12,000% over 8 years.

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

Since it’s a generic, the lifesaving drug isn’t subject to price regulations in the country.

U.K.’s competition watchdogs have been busy lately with pharma cases. Back in December, they smacked Pfizer with a record $108 million fine for an epilepsy drug licensing deal that triggered a 2,600% price increase, which Pfizer has since appealed. In February 2016, CMA hit GlaxoSmithKline with a $54 million fine on older pay-for-delay deals.

But more is to come. The CMA is working on two other investigations in the pharma industry, but has only released “very limited details” on those cases so far, a spokesperson said. They have to do with “alleged discounts on a product” and “unfair pricing.”

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