We can actually see the value of being a monopoly supplier.
According to the NHS drugs price list, in October last year a 125ml course cost the NHS around £4 a bottle. Now, the NHS price – which includes the wholesale cost set by the drugs company and a built-in profit for High Street chemist shops – has risen to £21.87, a more than five-fold increase.
The NHS price of the 250ml course, also branded as Floxapen Syrup, has risen from £8.02 last year to £26.87.
Until last year, the medicine, which is prescribed to more than two million patients annually, was made by two of the world’s biggest drug companies, Teva and Actavis.
But the price increases coincided with a decision last year by Teva to stop making the drug – claiming it was too expensive and unprofitable – handing its rivals a virtual monopoly.
The subsequent price increase could cost the NHS and the taxpayer an estimated £44million in extra prescription costs for this drug alone.