Cost of epilepsy drugs ‘on the rise’

Organisations that offer care and treatment to Britons with epilepsy are facing a rapidly growing bill for the relevant and most effective drugs, it has been claimed.

Capsules of Epanutin were being bought at an annual expense of just over £2 million by the NHS a short time ago, but the body is now being asked to cough up £46.6 million. The Daily Telegraph has claimed the drastic hike in prices came after British firm Flynn Pharma took over the right to sell the medicine from Pfizer.

It claimed only the packaging has changed and that the actual tablets in question remain exactly the same as they were when the NHS was forking out a little more than £2 million.

Dr Martin Brunet, a GP based in Surrey, said: "In my opinion, this is a quite scandalous abuse of a monopoly position. I don't know about legally, but ethically and morally that's what it strikes me as."

It is said that Flynn Pharma has been able to increase the price of Epanutin by changing it from a branded drug that had its cost set by the Department of Health, to a "generic" treatment. Had the NHS not had to fork out an extra £44 million each year, it would have been able to pay for about 1,800 more nurses.

Dr Brunet went on to note that many people who have epilepsy rely on the drug. Therefore, access to it is absolutely critical and must be preserved.

"Any change to their medicine could have dramatic consequences, such as having a seizure and losing their driving licence for 12 months," he stated.

David Fakes, a director at Flynn Pharma, defended his company's price rises and suggested the cost of Epanutin has been historically low and the new levels are more reflective of the market.

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