Prochlorperazine should be dirt cheap. At the old price of 10p each it was expensive, and now at 70p each it is astronomic. The drug has existed since I qualified, and no amount of increase in ingredient cost, or production process can justify this opportunity. The purchasing power of the English Health Service, ( as opposed to the other 3) is so great that all they need is good procurement management and supervision. It does not exist, just like exit interviews.
Four drug companies have been accused of colluding to force up the price of a medicine commonly taken by cancer patients by 700 per cent, costing the NHS millions.
The cost of prochlorperazine 3mg tablets, which are used to treat nausea and often prescribed to chemotherapy patients, rose from £6.49 for a packet of 50 to more than £51 between 2014 and 2018. This cost the NHS an extra £5 million in 2018 alone.
In 2013, Alliance Pharma sold the licence to market the drug exclusively to Focus Pharmaceuticals. It continued to manufacture the medicine and supply it to Focus at a fixed price.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that two other companies, Lexon and Medreich, had been working on versions of the medicine. Medreich obtained a licence in January 2014 but did not begin selling its rival drug until late 2017. Instead, Focus agreed to pay Lexon a share of its profits from the medicine, which Lexon in turn shared with Medreich.
The CMA’s ruling is provisional and the companies can respond before a final decision. The anti-nausea medicine was among more than 70 drugs named in an investigation by The Times into a loophole in NHS pricing rules.
Alliance Pharma said it “has had no involvement in the pricing or distribution of prochlorperazine since 2013”. It said that it had not influenced or benefited from any price increases.
Advanz Pharma, formerly Concordia International, said some of the price rises dated from before it owned Focus. It said it did not believe that competition law had been infringed.
Cinven, which acquired Focus in October 2014 and sold it a year later, declined to comment.
Lexon and Medreich did not respond to requests for comment.