An unregistered drug cannot be sold in the country and will not have a price. The commission complained about its R152‚000 price saying it was in possession of information that this treatment was “unaffordable”. Pfizer denied this price.
Wits oncology professor Paul Ruff explained that a handful of patients accessed this drug using a special Section 21 permit to buy it overseas and import it, because it is not available here. Medicines only get a set price after they are registered in the country‚ he said‚ so crizotinib has no local price or supplier.
The European Commission is investigating Aspen for a 1‚500% increase for a 50-year-old leukaemia drug in the UK and a 4‚000% increase in Spain. On Tuesday, the commission said it would also investigate Aspen saying it was in “possession of information that Aspen had engaged in the same conduct locally”.
However‚ it failed again to note all price increases for all drugs are set annually by the department of health.
Aspen confirmed that the drugs under investigation have increased, on average, 6.25% since 2009 when Aspen bought the drug portfolio from GSK. The commission said Aspen’s drug prices may be “excessive”. The drug used for leukaemia‚ Leukeran‚ costs between R2‚800 and R4‚800 a month per patient.
Myleran‚ used for a blood cancer‚ costs an average of R2‚086 a month but the dose and price will drop after a few months if the cancer goes into remission‚ said Aspen’s spokesman Stavros Nicolaou.
The commission also took issue with Roche’s cancer drug which costs R500‚000 in the private sector for a year’s course. The commission said people couldn’t access the drugs and charged Roche with “exclusionary conduct”. But this drug is to be provided to state patients at one of the lowest prices in the world within months‚ two sources close to the Roche and department of health negotiations said.
Roche said recently it believed a deal with the department on supplying this drug to state patients was “about to be finalised” saying negotiations were “advanced”.