31 October 2019

CeBIL conference on Excessive Pharmaceutical Prices

How much is too much - Excessive Pharmaceutical Prices in European Competition Law & Regulation

Are drug prices ever more excessive and what are the implications for affordable access to life-saving, innovative medicines? Recent years have seen numerous excessive price cases in Denmark, Italy, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, US and around the world. The question of high drug prices is no longer a question of Sub-Saharan Africa, but very much a matter of concern for health systems and policymakers in Europe and US.

In Denmark the price of Syntocinon, containing oxytocin, an active substance given to pregnant women in connection with childbirth, was raised with 2000 percent. In Italy, the price of so-called "Cosmos Drugs" for treatment of cancer - Leukeran, Alkeran, Purinethol and Tioguanine - was raised with 1500 percent. In UK, the price of Phenytoin Sodium capsules - an anti-epilepsy drug used in the treatment of some 48,000 patients in the UK - was raised with 1600 percent. Also in the UK, the price of Hydrocortisone tablets - used for treatment of adrenal insufficiency, for example, with Addison’s disease - was raised with 12000 percent, increasing the amount NHS spent annually on the drug from £522,000 a year prior to 2008 to £70 million a year in 2015.

The complex matter of intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical sector, regulatory as well as competition law issues are highlighted in these cases. The cases recounted above ultimately became a matter for the competition authorities, leading European Commission Directorate General for Competition to open a formal inquiry into Aspen Pharma´s excessive pricing practices across Europe. A rather eye-catching development, as the number of excessive price cases as an anti-competitive practice is limited and these cases raise some of the most difficult legal and economic considerations.
Facing what seems to be a revival of competition law enforcement and policy debates on the topic of excessive pharmaceutical prices on both sides of the Atlantic, the conference on November 6th 2019 brings together high-level stakeholders in this field including the OECD, European Commission, Danish and Italian Competition Authorities, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations, Danish Cancer Patient Organization as well as leading scholars in the field. The hope is that necessary debates shall take place within a well-informed and transparent environment that takes into account multiple factors, interests, responsibilities and concerns. This entails inter alia considering various types of diseases (rare, neglected or blockbuster) treatment outcomes (cure or long dependency), as well as the economic complexities of successful innovation systems and higher societal goals such as sustainability, solidarity and fairness.

Time: 6 November 2019, 08:00-18:00

Place: University of Copenhagen, The Ceremonial Hall (Festsalen), Main Building, Frue Plads 4, DK-1017 Copenhagen K


Please register no later than 4 November at 24:00 using this registration form.

CeBIL is supported by a grant of
DKK 35 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation.