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GP launches petition for record pharma fine to benefit the NHS

A GP has launched a petition calling on the Government to spend money collected from a record pharmaceutical company fine to be spent on the NHS.

In December, drugs company Pfizer was fined a record £84.2m by the UK competition regulator for hiking the price of their NHS anti-epilepsy drug by up to 2,600%.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued the largest-ever fine, saying that the US drugs manufacturer ‘deliberately exploited’ the NHS and the British public.

The distributor Flynn Pharma was also fined £5.2m after it was found that both companies broke competition law by charging excessive and unfair prices in the UK for the anti-epilepsy drug, phenytoin sodium capsules.

The petition, launched by Guildford GP Dr Martin Brunet, says that even if ‘all the fines’ are ‘returned to the NHS’ it will ‘still fall short’ of the extra cost for the NHS for the ‘vital drug’.

The petition, which has a deadline of 15 June, also adds: ‘Patients with epilepsy have been most affected, and so some of the money should be used to employ epilepsy nurses to improve epilepsy care.’

Former health minister Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP for Norfolk, raised the same issue with ministers in a Written Question last month.

He asked whether ‘the Government will take steps to ensure that the proceeds of fines imposed by the [CMA] on pharmaceutical companies will be invested in the NHS’.

Chief secretary to the Treasury David Gauke responded that it would be returned the Consolidated Fund – the main bank account of the Government – ‘as with other fine income’.

He added: ‘Receipts from this fine will therefore help fund the £10bn increase in NHS funding set out at the Spending Review.

‘A separate process is available for parties to recover damages suffered as a result of anti-competitive behaviour through the courts.’

As previously reported, both Pfizer and Flynn Pharma refuted the CMA’s allegations and plan to appeal the ruling.