Pfizer, Roche and Aspen face South Africa probe over cancer drug prices

PUBLISHED: Tue, 13 Jun 2017 16:22:13 GMT

South Africa’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into three pharmaceutical companies suspected of over-charging for cancer medicines, the agency’s chief said on Tuesday.

Tembinkosi Bonakele, head of the Competition Commission, said the agency would investigate Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s biggest generic drug maker, U.S. company Pfizer and Swiss-based Roche Holding.

“Here we have suspicion, we think that the reason is excessive pricing by the participants in the market. We have to investigate and bring people to book,” Bonakele told a news conference.

The Commission, which investigates cases before bringing them to the Competition Tribunal for adjudication, said it suspected lung cancer medicines sold by Pfizer had been excessively priced. It also suspects a similar anticompetitive conduct for breast cancer drugs sold by Roche.

The Commission also said it would look into whether Aspen, a local company based in Durban, might have charged excessively for life-saving cancer medicines in South Africa.

Aspen said it would issue a statement shortly. Roche and Pfizer did not immediately respond to telephone requests for comment.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla. Editing by Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)

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