The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has maintained a decision made last year by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to fine pharmaceutical firm Lexon £1.2m after finding the company guilty of breaking competition law.
Last year, the CMA found that Lexon, along with King Pharmaceuticals and Alissa Healthcare Research, had illegally shared commercially sensitive information in an attempt to drive up prices of the antidepressant nortriptyline.
The CMA concluded that from 2015 to 2017 – when the cost of the drug was decreasing – the three companies exchanged information about prices, the volumes they were supplying and Alissa’s plans to enter the market.
The CMA then fined all three companies, fining Lexon a total of £1.2m – however, Lexon maintained it had not broken the law and appealed the decision and fine.
However, the CAT has decided to uphold the CMA’s original finding that Lexon broke competition law and the fine.
As a result, the CMA can now continue its director disqualification application against Pritesh Sonpal, a Lexon director, who was directly involved in the information exchange.
“Lexon illegally exchanged competitively-sensitive information to try and keep prices up, meaning the NHS – and ultimately the UK taxpayer – could have been paying over the odds for this important drug,” said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.
“Such behaviour is unacceptable. We will continue to crack down on companies that seek to break the law and will be keeping a close eye on this sector,” she added.