Drug maker fined for halting supply of cancer drugs to spike prices

Aspen Pharmacare a large pharma company in South Afruca was fined nearly $5.5 million by the Italian antitrust authorities for stopping its supplies of cancer drugs to strengthen its negotiation position to boost prices by as much as 1500 percent. ASpen bought drugs from GlazoSmithKline and then began negotiation with the Italian Medicines Agency on prices on drugs including Leukeran and Alkeran. The drugs temporarily disappeared from the market and Aspen was able to raise prices by 300-1500 percent. Patents on the drugs had expired according to the written ruling.

Aspen is apparently the only supplier of these kinds of cancer treatments in the Italian market. Regulators fined the company after complaints were raised from a consumer group, which had been contacted by patients complaining about shortages of the medicines. In this country, it has been suggested that pharma companies have also created shortages of badly needed medications to increase their bargaining power to set prices higher. Congress is looking into this matter.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers