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Collusion probe into cancer meds

By News24 13 June 2017

Johannesburg - The Competition Commission announced it will investigate price fixing of cancer medication.

Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele was speaking at a briefing at the Department of Trade and Industry headquarters in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The investigation is to be initiated against oncology medicine provider Roche Products, which includes its US-based biotechnology company Genentech Incorporated.

The commission will also investigate Pfizer, for suspected excessive pricing of lung cancer medication in South Africa. Aspen Pharmacare [JSE:APN] is also to be probed for price-fixing in the provision of cancer medication.

The commission plans to obtain evidence from patients.

“We have to treat this with the urgency and sensitivity it deserves, there are still many patients in need of these drugs,” said Bonakele.

“We have to look at patents and how they get abused. A perpetual monopoly aided by patents is unlawful,” he said.

This follows a previous report by Fin24 that Aspen is under preliminary investigation for alleged price-fixing.

In a statement the pharmaceutical company indicated it would cooperate with the commission. Aspen explained that all prices are approved by the Department of Health in terms of the Single Exit Price regulatory framework. At the time Aspen affirmed that price increases were made within this framework.

Aspen is undergoing a legal process with European regulators over allegations that the company secretly planned to destroy life-saving cancer medication European countries to allow price hikes, Fin24 reported.

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