The UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it plans to levy criminal charges against five generic drug companies for conspiring to defraud the British National Health Service (NHS) by fixing the prices of blood-clotting and antibiotic drugs.
The announcement follows a three-year investigation launched by the SFO in April 2002 into whether UK-based generic drug companies agreed to fix prices of penicillin-based antibiotics and blood-clotting drug warfarin between 19962000. The NHS sued several drug firms in 2003 alleging they artificially raised prices for these drugs by agreeing not to sell below a fixed price.
Companies being charged include Kent Pharmaceuticals, Goldshield, Generics UK, Ranbaxy UK (an arm of India-based Ranbaxy Laboratories) and Norton Healthcare, the SFO said recently. Teva now owns Norton after Teva recently purchased Norton's former parent company, Ivax.