Pharma giant plotted to destroy cancer drugs, push prices up 4000%

Leaked internal emails appear to show employees at one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies calling for “celebration” over price hikes of cancer drugs, an investigation has revealed.

Staff at Aspen Pharmacare reportedly plotted to destroy stocks of life-saving medicines during a price dispute with the Spanish health service in 2014.

After purchasing five different cancer drugs from British firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the company tried to sell the medicines in Europe for up to 40 times their previous price, reported The Times (external - login to view).

In a confidential email published by The Times, an Aspen employee appeared to write: “We’ve signed new reimbursement and price agreement successfully: price increases are basically on line with European target prices (Leukeran, a bit higher!)... Let’s celebrate!”

When bargaining over drug prices in Spain, the pharmaceutical giant is said to have threatened to stop selling the cancer treatments unless the Health minister agreed to price rises of up to 4,000 per cent, reported (external - login to view) Spanish daily El Confidencial Digital at the time.

Now another leaked email appears to reveal that staff at Aspen discussed destroying their supplies of the drug in the row.

The company, which is based in South Africa and has its European headquarters in Dublin, bought the five drugs from GSK in 2009 as part of a deal worth £273m.

The price increases were made possible by a loophole that allows drug companies to change the price of medicines if they are no longer branded with the same name.

The Department of Health has said it plans to cut generic drug costs after researchers said there has been a sharp increase in the price of cancer drugs in the last five years, leading to their use being restricted in the NHS.

The loophole is designed to make drugs cheaper once ther patents have expired – but if drug companies have no competition, they are free to rise prices as well.

Pharmaceutical giant 'plotted to destroy cancer drugs to drive prices up 4000%' | The Independent (external - login to view)
lone wolf
...and the law says it's the pusher who's scum....
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