Drug giant Pfizer fined record £84 million for massively overcharging epilepsy medicine

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also fined Flynn Pharma for raising the price of phenytoin sodium capsules in 2012

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has been charged a record £84.2 million ($106.5 million) by Britain’s competition watchdog for hiking the cost of an epilepsy drug by 2,600 percent.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)  also fined Flynn Pharma for raising the price of phenytoin sodium capsules in 2012. Companies were accused over the matter last year by the watchdog.

According to reports, the firm is going to appeal the decision.

The price hike caused a rise in the spending on the capsules by the NHS from £2 million a year in 2012 to about £50 million in 2013. Watchdog has said the UK prices of the capsule were many times higher than elsewhere in Europe.

Pfizer used to market the drug themselves under the brand name Epanutin, but later it sold the rights to Flynn, a British private company in 2012.

The decision to debrand or declare it as generic drug, was meant to exempt it from price regulation.

“The companies deliberately exploited the opportunity offered by debranding to hike up the price for a drug which is relied upon by many thousands of patients,” Philip Marsden, chairman of the CMA’s case decision group, said on Wednesday.

“These extraordinary price rises have cost the NHS and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds.”

In a statement, the pharmaceutical giant challenged CMA’s decision and sai they would appeal on the ruling.

Pfizer said the drug was going loss-making and the company was forced to think about the supply of it.

They claimed that price set by Flynn was 25 to 40 per cent less than the cost of an equivalent tablet form of the medicine from another supplier.

Flynn refused to comment on the matter.