The Real Driver Behind the Pfizer Fines

The record £89.4m fines imposed by the Competition and Marketing Authority on Pfizer and Flynn Pharma just before Christmas were a real good news story for the NHS. While I wrote about the story, my own efforts 4 years ago drew a blank in terms of actually making things happen, and it was Dr Stephen Pike, a GP in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, who has been the real driver behind the CMA investigation that has ultimately led to this landmark judgment. Dr Pike made a formal complaint, on behalf of Coastal West Sussex CCG to the Office of Fair Trading (the forerunner of the CMA) at the end of October 2012, and contacted me in February 2013 to let me know the good news that a formal investigation was to take place. In the 4 years that have followed, Dr Pike has been assisting the CMA in their investigation, and so has needed to keep his own name out of the news until the final verdict had been reached. Now the CMA has reached its verdict, the pivotal role Dr Pike has played in this investigation can be acknowledged, and the credit given where it is due.

That a pharmaceutical giant has been called to account for its actions in this way is a fantastic achievement. What is more, Stephen plans to seek a compensatory payment in addition to the imposed fine, from both Pfizer and Flynn Pharma for the losses incurred by CCGs as a result of the excessive pricing of phenytoin capsules for the past four years, to be re-invested by CCGs back into patient care. This is where the real impact of this judgement could be felt – since the compensation could be significantly more than the fines, and will have to be paid back to the CCGs and not go to the Exchequer.

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