EU Opens Formal Probe Into Aspen Pharma's Pricing Practices for Cancer Drugs -- Update

By Natalia Drozdiak Features Dow Jones Newswires

The European Union's antitrust watchdog on Monday said it had opened a full-blown probe into whether South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. was charging excessive prices for cancer drugs, in breach of the bloc's rules.

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The European Commission said it was scrutinizing whether Aspen was abusing its dominant position by charging "very significant and unjustified price increases of up to several hundred percent" for drugs to treat cancer, such as hematologic tumors.

The regulator also said it had information that to impose the price increases, Aspen threatened to withdraw the medicines in some EU countries and in some cases had already done so.

In particular, the commission is investigating pricing practices for medicines containing the active pharmaceutical ingredients chlorambucil, melphalan, mercaptopurine, tioguanine and busulfan.

The EU said Italian competition authorities had already fined Aspen last September over its pricing practices.

Write to Natalia Drozdiak at natalia.drozdiak@wsj.com

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BRUSSELS--The European Union's antitrust watchdog on Monday said it had opened a full-blown probe into whether South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. was charging excessive prices for cancer drugs, in breach of the bloc's rules.

The European Commission said it was scrutinizing whether Aspen was abusing its dominant position by charging "very significant and unjustified price increases of up to several hundred percent" for drugs to treat cancer, such as hematologic tumors.

The regulator also said it had information that to impose the price increases, Aspen threatened to withdraw the medicines in some EU countries and in some cases had already done so.

In particular, the commission is investigating pricing practices for medicines containing the active pharmaceutical ingredients chlorambucil, melphalan, mercaptopurine, tioguanine and busulfan.

The EU said Italian competition authorities had already fined Aspen last September over its pricing practices.

In a statement on its website, Aspen confirmed the European Commission had launched the probe. It said it was "not currently in a position to comment on these proceedings" but that "it reaffirms its commitment to fair and open competition in markets in the European Union and around the world."

Write to Natalia Drozdiak at natalia.drozdiak@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 15, 2017 07:01 ET (11:01 GMT)