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FTPL Coalition welcomes pharmaceutical price fixing probe

FTPL Coalition welcomes pharmaceutical price fixing probe

News that the Competition Commission will investigate the pricing of some cancer medicines in South Africa, has been seen as a major victory for the ordinary South African.

The Fix the Patent Laws (FTPL) Coalition said it was encouraged by the latest development, as it strives to ensure that cancer treatment be accessible to all South Africans.  

Spokesperson Luvo Nelani made particular reference to the Tobeka Daki Campaign, which had been sparked by the exceedingly high price of cancer medicine. Daki died of breast cancer in 2016 but there has been a feeling that not enough progress has been made in this fight, despite all her efforts as an activist.

"The Competition Commission probe announced today will investigate the price of cancer medicines of three pharmaceutical companies. One of these companies is Roche Holdings AG, which will be investigated for the excessive pricing of trastuzumab (the medicine Tobeka never had the chance to try)," said Nelani. 

"The investigation specifically relates to 'excessive pricing', 'exclusionary conduct', and 'price discrimination'. While Tobeka was unable to access this medicine, Roche made USD 8.9-billion profit in 2015," added Nelani.

"The Commission will also investigate local pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare for alleged 'abuse of dominance'. Reports in April this year indicated that the Spanish Markets and Competition Commission initiated anti-trust proceedings against Aspen. In October 2016, Aspen was fined over EUR 5-million by the Italian Competition Authority for having abused its dominant position by increasing prices of four of its anti-cancer medicines by up to 1,500 percent.

"The Commission also initiated an investigation against pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. for “suspected excessive pricing of lung cancer medication”.

"We are encouraged by the Commission’s undertaking to investigate manufacturers of excessively priced cancer medicines. We will be monitoring the Commission’s progress for the duration of these investigations. We are committed to assisting the Commission in their investigation and to ensure that cancer survivors and people who have lost loved ones to cancer have a place at the table. These investigations give hope that more people living with cancer will in future be able to access the medicines that will give them a chance at life."