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09 December 2016

Epilepsy Society's chief executive Clare Pelham has expressed frustration with Flynn Pharma

Clare Pelham, chief executive

Epilepsy Society's chief executive Clare Pelham has expressed frustration that pharmaceutical company Flynn Pharma has failed to reassure her of their long-term commitment  to supplying the epilepsy drug, phenytoin sodium capsules.

In December 2016, the UK-based drug company was fined a record £89 million along with drug manufacturers , Pfizer, for increasing the price of the drug by up to 2,600 per cent over night.

The drug companies were able to ramp up the price when the drug was de-branded, meaning it was no longer subject to price regulations. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) labelled the price hike as 'excessive and unfair'.

Around 48,000 people in the UK are prescribed phenytoin sodium capsules.

Following the fine, Flynn Pharma wrote to Ms Pelham assuring her that they did not foresee any disruption to the supply and availability of the drug while they addressed the CMA's findings.

However a statement on Flynn Pharma's website, quoted on Sky News, appeared to contradict their reassurance. The statement read: 'we believe that left unchallenged, the CMA's decision today would stunt investment in generics, eventually leading to a reduction in supply and less choice for doctors and patients.'

Writing to the drug company's chief executive Dr David Fakes, Ms Pelham said in her letter below:

'This would suggest that if the CMA’s decision is upheld, the supply of this drug could be at risk.

'Please could you assure us of your long-term commitment to the supply of this drug for at least the next five years. As you will be aware, epilepsy is a long-term health condition and those dependent on phenytoin sodium capsules need to be certain that the drug which gives them maximum seizure control will not be the victim of a price war.  We would welcome your written confirmation as soon as possible.

'I would of course be happy to meet and discuss the broader context with you whenever you have space in your busy diary.'

Ms Pelham has yet to receive a response. She commented: 'It's been a month since I wrote. And for many people it's been an anxious month. As a charity, our commitment is to the 600,000 people in the UK with epilepsy. It is vital for those people to receive the epilepsy drug that will give them best control of their seizures. If that drug is phenytoin sodium capsules, it is vital they know the supply is not being threatened by a dedicated commitment to profit margins rather than to patient care.

'Anxiety can trigger seizures for some people with epilepsy which is why I would like a clear and unambiguous reply from Flynn Pharma.'

Read more 

Read Flynn Pharma's response to Clare Pelham's letter.

Drug firms should blush at up to 2,600 per cent price increase to NHS

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