CMA penalty decision upheld in major drug market sharing case

30 Apr 2024 11:03 AM

The CAT has unanimously upheld the level of penalty imposed by the CMA for a market sharing agreement relating to 20mg hydrocortisone tablets.

In a judgment handed down yesterday, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) found the penalty of £2,798,525 was fair and proportionate. The penalty, which was imposed on Accord-UK – formerly Actavis UK, which took over the Auden Mckenzie business – took into account the seriousness of the agreement in which Auden bought off a potential rival to avoid it competing with its own version of the drug, and preserve Auden’s ability to increase prices.

This follows the CAT’s judgment in September 2023, which unanimously upheld the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) finding that the prices Auden/Actavis UK charged for hydrocortisone tablets between 2008 and 2018 were excessive and unfair, amounting to an abuse of a dominant position. This resulted in fines of almost £130 million.

In its 2021 decision, the CMA also found that Auden/Actavis agreed to make substantial monthly payments to AMCo in exchange for AMCo agreeing not to enter the market independently with its own 10mg hydrocortisone tablets between 2012 and 2016. The CMA fined the parties a total of £106 million, and the parties appealed. The CAT allowed these appeals on a procedural point, and the CMA is seeking leave to appeal that decision from the Court of Appeal.

Juliette Enser, Interim Executive Director of Competition Enforcement at the CMA, yesterday said:

We are pleased that the CAT has fully endorsed our approach to this penalty decision, recognising the serious nature of the market sharing agreement, which led to the imposition of the fine.

This is a life-saving drug relied on by thousands of people to manage conditions such as Addison’s disease – paid for by the NHS, and ultimately tax payers.

Background on the case

Notes to Editors

  1. For media queries, please contact the press office on or on 020 3738 6460.
  2. Actavis UK/Accord-UK took over Auden’s business in 2015 and was liable for Auden’s conduct prior to that date. Accord-UK is therefore solely liable for the penalty of £2,798,525 relating to the 20mg market sharing agreement.
  3. Waymade paid its penalty of £2,200,000 for the 20mg market sharing agreement and did not appeal the CMA’s decision.
  4. Previous action taken by the CMA in relation to the pharma sector and the fines imposed: