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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that Auden Mckenzie, and its rival Waymade, the sole suppliers of hydrocortisone tablets in the UK, entered into anti-competitive agreements.
The CMA has issued its concerns in a ‘Statement of Objections’ to the companies involved. Auden Mckenzie may have abused its dominant position by making monthly payments to Waymade not to enter the hydrocortisone market.
As a result of this alleged anti-competitive behaviour, the CMA believes the NHS was denied a choice of suppliers and the potential savings resulting from increased competition.
From 2011 to 2015, while Auden Mckenzie remained the sole supplier of 20mg hydrocortisone tablets, charges to the NHS rose from around £46 to £90 for a pack of 30 tablets, increasing the annual costs incurred by the NHS for the medicine from £1.7 million to £3.7 million.
Waymade was ready to enter the market for 20mg hydrocortisone tablets, but then failed to do so until July 2015. Instead, it froze its own stock and agreed a deal with Auden Mckenzie under which it received monthly payments aimed at delaying its entry as a competitor in the market.
Waymade also obtained a licence to sell 10mg hydrocortisone tablets in September 2012. In exchange for Waymade not entering the market and competing with its own tablets, the CMA alleges that Auden Mckenzie significantly lowered the price it charged Waymade from the market rate of around £32 per pack to £1.
The case was opened in October 2017. This provisional finding gives Waymade and Auden Mckenzie the chance to make representations to the CMA before it reaches a final decision.
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