Aspen, accused of gouging, slashes cancer drug prices by 70%

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS, July 14 (Reuters) – Aspen has offered to cut prices by an average of 73% for six off-patent cancer drugs, EU antitrust regulators said on Tuesday, a move that could help the South African pharmaceutical company avoid a potentially hefty fine.

The European Commission opened an investigation into Aspen in 2017 following concerns it may have charged excessive prices for drugs critical in treating patients suffering from certain types of life-threatening cancer, such as leukaemia and multiple myeloma.

Aspen’s price cuts will cover all of Europe except for Italy, which imposed a five million euro ($5.68 million) fine on the company in 2016 for price hikes of up to 1,500% for some drugs.

The European Commission, the EU executive, said it would seek feedback from interested parties before deciding whether to accept the company’s offer.

“The proposed commitments aim at bringing to an end Aspen’s suspected excessive pricing conduct with respect to its six off-patent cancer medicines, which the Commission suspects to constitute an abuse of a dominant position,” the Commission said in a statement.

It said Aspen’s proposal would lead to an immediate price cut in its net prices to below 2012 levels for most of the drugs, guarantee supply and involve a 10-year price ceiling.

The price cuts would apply retroactively from Oct. 1, 2019, when Aspen first submitted its concessions to regulators.

Under its antitrust settlement procedures, accepting the offer would mean no fines and no acknowledgement of wrongdoing. Sanctions can amount to 10% of a company’s global turnover.

($1 = 0.8805 euros) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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