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EU launches probe into Aspen Pharma cancer drug pricing

Staff Writer |
European regulators have launched a formal investigation into Aspen Pharma over concerns that the South Africa company's prices for life-saving cancer medicines are "excessive."

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The European Commission will investigate whether Aspen has abused a dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules.

Companies should be rewarded for developing drugs that save or prolong lives, to ensure that they keep making them into the future, said EC competition chief Margrethe Vestager.

"But when the price of a drug suddenly goes up by several hundred percent, this is something the Commission may look at.

"More specifically, in this case we will be assessing whether Aspen is breaking EU competition rules by charging excessive prices for a number of medicines."

The EC investigation will examine Aspen's pricing practices for niche medicines containing the active pharmaceutical ingredients chlorambucil, melphalan, mercaptopurine, tioguanine and busulfan, which Aspen bought after their patent protection had expired and has sold under various brand names and in different combinations for treating cancer, such as hematologic tumours.

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