Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) is on the spot of an investigation by South Africa’s competition watchdog. The drugmaker is alleged to have put excessive prices on cancer medicines in South Africa. Apparently, Pfizer is not alone in these accusations according to the head of the Competition Commission, Tembinkosi Bonakele. Aspen Pharmacare and Swiss-based Roche Holding have also been named as possible candidates of investigations.
Aspen is accused of over-charging for its Leukeran, Alkeran, and Myleran cancer treatments while Roche is said to have done the same for its breast cancer drugs Herceptin and Herclon.
But the companies have denied the allegations
According to the commission, the health sector is facing a threat of unwarranted pricing, which is likely to bring an anti-competitive conduct. This would eventually have an impact on consumers in general and particularly the poor who are the most vulnerable. None of the three companies has come out clearly to give formal comments on the agency’s accusations.
However, speaking to a news conference Bonakele stated, “Here we have a suspicion. We think that the reason is excessive pricing by the participants in the market. We have to investigate and bring people to book.”
Each of the companies has denied the allegations. Aspen said that the prices for its medicines were within the approved margin by the South African health department. On the other hand, Roche says it has not received any formal communication from the agency but even then, the company has confirmed its readiness to cooperate with the authorities.
Bonakele says that discrepancy in prices would result in “discrimination.” Thus he says the commission must streamline the situation to ensure that every person benefits from the cancer medication. Apparently, Aspen is facing a similar investigation with the European Commission for having increased the price of a cancer drug in Spain by 4‚000%.
In the meantime, Pfizer’s stock was trading at $32.69 witnessing an increase of $0.11 or 0.34%.