South Africa probes pharmaceutical giants Pfizer, Roche, Aspen over cancer drug pricing
South Africa's competition commission said Tuesday it had launched investigations into pharmaceutical giants Roche, Pfizer and Aspen for suspected overpricing of cancer drugs.
The commission said it had initiated probes into US firms Roche and Pfizer for suspected "excessive pricing" of breast and lung cancer medication, respectively.
"The commission has reason to believe that Roche and its USA-based biotechnology company, Genentech Inc. (Genentech) have and continue to engage in excessive pricing, price discrimination ... in the provision of breast cancer medicine in South Africa," it said in a statement.
It said it had information to reasonably suspect that Roche may be engaging in unfair competition conduct, prolonging its "hold on breast cancer drugs".
Roche is also accused of charging different rates to private and public sector patients, which may be in contravention of the country's competition laws.
"We have also initiated an investigation against pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer Inc, for suspected excessive pricing of lung cancer medication in South Africa," the statement added.
The commission is also investigating South Africa's Aspen for overcharging three drugs used in the treatment of various strains of cancers including leukaemias, myeloma and ovarian cancer.
The commission suspects Aspen of "abuse of dominance by charging excessive prices in the provision of lifesaving cancer medicines in South Africa."
Aspen is already under investigation in the European Union over suspicions that it abused its dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules.
The EU probe was announced last month.