Pharmaceutical giant Aspen is alleged to have withheld stockpiles of vital cancer drugs to raise prices. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Johannesburg - Aspen Pharmacare on Tuesday welcomed the the Democratic Alliance's (DA) retraction of allegations of anti-competitive conduct previously made against the pharmaceutical company.
This comes after the DA last month requested the Competition Commission and Medicines Control Council to investigate reports in the UK and locally that staff at Aspen had conspired to dispose of medicine in order to boost prices across Europe.
The reports alleged that this campaign had seen prices of some life-saving cancer treatments inflated by more than 1 000 percent.
The DA had said given the reports about how the cost of cancer drugs in Europe had been allegedly inflated, an investigation by the Competition Commission and the Medicines Control Council must look into whether the same tactics were being used in South Africa.
The Competition Commission then conducted a preliminary investigation into the market conduct of all pharmaceutical companies operating in South Africa and in the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa] consortium.
The World Bank also raised concerns about cartel-like practices that tend to drive medicine prices upwards and this requires investigation.
The DA released a statement on Monday that it met with Aspen and was satisfied that the company was not involved in the alleged anti competitive practices in South Africa as alleged in the UK.
"Following extensive high-level engagements between Aspen Pharmacare and the Health Portfolio of the DA, the DA is satisfied that there is no evidence that Aspen is involved in the same practices that they are accused of having pursued in Europe."
The South African pharmaceutical company said its prices were approved by the Department of Health in terms of the Single Exit Price regulatory framework.
The framework establishes a universal fixed price for each pharmaceutical product, and Aspen said it had not increased product prices outside of this regulatory framework.
AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY