Competition Investigation Could Hit Boots Over Drug Sales to the NHS

    By Mtaylor848 from Wikimedia Commons

    The Department of Health has issued a request to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to consider launching an investigation on the owner of Boots with regards to drug pricing.

    Steve Brine, the Health Minister, said that he had sent a request to the CMA to consider an investigation following claims of the Times that Boots had ripped off the National Health Service (NHS) with excessive pricing.

    The said newspaper said that Boots charged the NHS £3,220 for a medicinal mouthwash that was used by cancer patients which can be bought on the high street for only £93.

    It said that Boots had made use of a legal loophole to allow suppliers to establish their own prices for the drugs.

    The mouthwash is a part of a category of drugs that are called specials which do not have set prices.

    Brine stated: “The British public will take an extremely dim view of any company found to be exploiting our NHS and patients, and we have asked the Competition and Markets Authority to consider investigating as a priority.

    “We have changed the law to enable us to place pharmacies and manufacturers under much stronger scrutiny. Where there is evidence of collusion between pharmacies and suppliers swift action will be taken to claw back funds and penalise offenders”.

    A spokesperson from Walgreens Boots Alliance stated: “We firmly reject accusations of overcharging the NHS. Our senior company leaders have already recently met with officials from the Department of Health to discuss the specials products. We would welcome any further conversations with relevant authorities and stakeholders on this matter, including with the CMA.”

    Walgreens, a pharmacy giant from the United States, is the owner of Boots. Walgreens bought a 45 percent stake in Boots way back in 2012 prior to its acquisition of the remaining 55 percent stake in 2014.