The Department is already referring cases to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). To strengthen our work in this area we are considering putting measures in place to routinely and systematically monitor significant price increases of generic medicines and take action where appropriate, including the possible referral of suspected excessive pricing to the CMA, while taking into account the potential impact of any such action on the availability of medicines.
The CMA is currently conducting a number of investigations into anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical industry. It imposed fines totalling £45 million in one case (currently subject to appeal at the Competition Appeal Tribunal), and expects to reach a final decision by late summer in another. It opened two more cases in March and April 2016 in which it expects to decide in late summer whether there are grounds to take each investigation further.
The CMA is also considering evidence of other potential cases of anti-competitive practices in the sector, and may well open further investigations in the coming months.
The CMA is independent of Ministers and we cannot interfere in either the substance or the procedures of its decision-making.