--The U.K. antitrust watchdog provisionally found that drug sellers broke competition law in the supply of antibiotic nitrofurantoin

--The Competition and Markets Authority found that drug suppliers AMCo and Morningside reached an illegal market-sharing arrangement with Alliance Healthcare

--The companies said they believe competition law wasn't infringed and that they will respond to the CMA's allegations

 

By Adria Calatayud

 

The U.K. antitrust watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority, said Thursday that it has provisionally found that drug sellers broke competition law when supplying antibiotic nitrofurantoin between 2014 until at least October 2017.

Drug suppliers AMCo--now owned by Advanz Pharma Corp. (ADVZ.T)--and Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and wholesaler Alliance Healthcare--owned by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA)--entered into arrangements under which Alliance Healthcare would buy equal volumes of the drug from each of the suppliers so that they wouldn't compete, the CMA said.

The CMA said it has provisionally found that in May 2014 AMCo disclosed sensitive pricing information to Morningside with the aim of reducing competition between them.

The regulator said its provisional findings show that these arrangements prevented or restricted competition with the aim of keeping prices of nitrofurantoin capsules, an antibiotic commonly used to treat urinary-tract infections, artificially high.

The CMA said it will consider representations of the companies under investigation before determining whether the law has been infringed.

In emailed statements to Dow Jones Newswires, Alliance Healthcare, Morningside and Advanz said they will work with the CMA and respond to its allegations to address the concerns raised.

An Alliance Healthcare spokesperson said that it doesn't believe competition law has been infringed and that it plans to respond in detail to the CMA's allegations to defend its position. Alliance also noted that the CMA has issued a provisional view, which isn't a finding of infringement nor does it necessarily lead to an infringement decision.

A Morningside spokesperson said the company strongly refutes the concerns raised by the CMA, but said it will continue to work with the regulator to demonstrate its commitment to patient choice and a competitive market.

AMCo-owner Advanz said it is committed to ensuring access to high-quality medicines for patients in the U.K. and will respond to the CMA's preliminary position, as it doesn't believe that competition law has been infringed.

 

Write to Adria Calatayud at adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 25, 2019 07:00 ET (11:00 GMT)

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