Pfizer, Flynn Pharma hit with record-high fine for epilepsy drug price hikes

Pfizer and Flynn Pharma were fined a record amount for raising the price of its unbranded epilepsy drug by almost 2,600 percent in the U.K., reports Bloomberg.

The Competition and Markets Authority — the U.K.'s competition watchdog — fined Pfizer 84.2 million pounds ($106 million) and Flynn Pharma 5.2 million pounds ($6.6 million). British Airways received the previous highest fine of 58.5 million pounds ($73.8 million) in 2012 for colluding with Virgin Atlantic on fuel surcharges, according to Reuters.

The price increase occurred in 2012 after Pfizer transferred distribution rights to Flynn Pharma, which sold the drug under its generic name, phenytoin sodium, according to the report.

According to a 2015 complaint from CMA, Britain's National Health Service spent about 50 million pounds on the anti-epilepsy drug in 2013 and 40 million pounds in 2014.

"The companies deliberately exploited the opportunity offered by de-branding to hike up the price for a drug which is relied upon by many thousands of patients," said Philip Marsden, chairman of the case decision group for the CMA's investigation, according to Bloomberg. "These extraordinary price rises have cost the NHS and the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds."

Both Pfizer and Flynn Pharma said they plan to appeal the fines.

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