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Pharma company director disqualified for competition law breaches

UK News | Published:

Amit Patel is banned from holding a director role at any UK company for the next five years.

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A pharmaceutical company director has been disqualified after he admitted to breaking competition law.

Amit Patel has been banned from holding a director role at any UK company for the next five years, in connection with his involvement in illegal arrangements during his time at drug firms Auden McKenzie and Amilco.

A Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation found Auden McKenzie, along with King Pharmaceuticals Ltd, had shared out the supply of nortriptyline, an NHS-prescribed drug, to a large pharmaceutical wholesaler.

Mr Patel was director of Auden McKenzie between September 2014 to May 2015.

The CMA found the two companies agreed to supply the drug in specific amounts, and also fixed quantities and prices to the wholesaler.

The CMA said the aim of the agreement was to limit competition, which meant NHS could have been paying higher prices than if competition had not been restricted by the deal.

In his current role as director of Amilco, which he has held since 2013, Mr Patel admitted that, from March 1 2016 to October 19 2016, Amilco and another pharmaceutical company, Tiofarma, stayed out of the UK market for fludrocortisone, a prescription-only drug used to treat Addison’s Disease.

This enabled drug manufacturer Aspen to maintain its position as the sole supplier for the UK.

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The CMA alleged that this illegal agreement protected Aspen’s monopoly, giving it an opportunity to increase prices charged to the NHS by up to 1800%.

The CMA said Mr Patel admitted that, in exchange for staying out of the market, Amilco received a 30% share of the increased prices that Aspen was able to charge.

Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s executive director of enforcement, said: “Company directors have a responsibility to make sure their companies comply with competition law, and the CMA is determined to protect the public from directors who fail to do so.

“Today’s action should act as a warning to those in management positions, the CMA will not stand by when your firms break the law and take advantage of customers.”

The ban announced on Thursday brings the total number of disqualifications secured by the CMA to 16, after it began actively using its power in December 2016.

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