Investigation into supply of lithium-based medication for the treatment of bipolar disease

The CMA has accepted commitments offered by Essential Pharma that address the CMA’s competition concerns resulting from conduct regarding the supply of drugs used to treat bipolar disorder.

Date Action
18 December 2020 CMA commitments decision published and case closure
December 2020 CMA consideration of representations received in response to the consultation
24 November to 9 December 2020 Commitments consultation period
24 November 2020 Consultation opened on commitments proposed by Essential Pharma
October and November 2020 Initial investigation: information gathering, including issuing formal and/or informal information requests and receipt and review of parties’ responses
5 October 2020 Investigation opened

Decision to accept binding commitments

On 18 December 2020, the CMA published its decision to accept commitments from Essential Pharma in relation to its conduct in the supply of lithium carbonate medicines in the UK.

Formal acceptance of commitments by the CMA brought the investigation to an end, with no decision being made as to whether or not the Competition Act 1998 (the ‘Act’) and/or the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU)’ have been infringed.

Consultation on commitments

On 24 November 2020, the CMA published a notice of intention to accept the commitments offered by Essential Pharma and has invited representations from interested third parties on that proposed course of action.

Launch of CMA investigation

On 5 October 2020, the CMA launched an investigation under Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998 into a suspected breach of competition law by Essential Pharma. The investigation relates to Essential Pharma’s intention to discontinue supply of Priadel, a lithium-based medication for the treatment of bipolar disease.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) had requested that the CMA impose ‘interim measures’ to pause the withdrawal of Priadel while the investigation is ongoing. However, following the opening of the CMA’s investigation, Essential Pharma informed DHSC that it will continue to supply the drug to facilitate discussions on pricing, removing the immediate threat to patients.

During its investigation, the CMA undertook a number of investigative steps to gather evidence from Essential Pharma and a number of third parties.

The investigation is under Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998. The CMA has not reached a view as to whether there is sufficient evidence of an infringement of competition law for it to issue a statement of objections to any of the parties under investigation. Not all cases result in the CMA issuing a statement of objections.


Assistant Project Director: Elizabeth Sinclair (020 7386423,

Project Director: Bethan Watts (0203 7386426,

Senior Responsible Officer: Ann Pope (0203 7386786,

Published 6 October 2020
Last updated 18 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Decision to accept commitments published.

  2. Consultation opened on commitments proposed by Essential Pharma.

  3. First published.