Company Fined for Prescription Drug Price Increase
In yet another controversy over prescription drug prices, the New York-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer was fined $106 million in the United Kingdom for instituting a 2600 percent increase for a common seizure medication. Earlier this year, Mylan drew public and political outrage for massive price increases on its EpiPen allergy treatment. Turing has also been the focus of drug pricing investigations after raising the cost of a medication to treat infections in people with weakened immune systems—from HIV/AIDS or cancer, for example—from $13.50 a pill to $750.
Regulators in Great Britain charge that Pfizer broke competition law by "charging excessive and unfair prices" after phenytoin sodium capsules were de-branded in 2012. According to officials, the price for this seizure medication—used by about 48,000 people in the U.K. to control epilepsy—skyrocketed from $3.57 to $85.06. As a result of the increase, the National Health Service’s cost for the drug rose from $2.5 million in 2012 to $63 million in 2013.
Pfizer has denied the allegations and the company has announced that it will appeal the fine. Although drug companies are allowed to set prices, companies that hold a dominant position in the market generally set prices that are profitable, but not excessive or unfair.
Image Credit: Thinkstock