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South Africa's Aspen to pay £10.1M to settle anti-competition probe

U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority said South Africa-based Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. is offering to pay £10.1 million to resolve an anti-competition probe involving a rare disorder drug.

The competition authority is investigating Aspen's alleged anti-competitive arrangements of paying two pharmaceutical competitors in 2016 to stay out of the market to become the sole supplier of fludrocortisone acetate 0.1-milligram tablets.

Fludrocortisone acetate is a prescription medicine used to treat Addison's disease, also called primary adrenal insufficiency or hypoadrenalism, a rare disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol or aldosterone. The medication is covered by the U.K. National Health Service.

Aspen's settlement package includes an £8 million payment to the NHS as the company's conduct may have resulted in the U.K. health agency paying a higher price for fludrocortisone, the CMA said in a statement. The company's case is the first time for U.K. authorities to secure payment for the NHS in a pharmaceutical investigation.

In addition, the South African pharmaceutical company will pay a maximum of £2.1 million fine upon completion of the CMA's investigation and will commit to restore competition in the fludrocortisone market.

The CMA will consult interested parties before accepting commitments to address the competition concerns. The concerned parties are given until Sept. 2 to respond to the consultation.