Fludrocortisone acetate tablets: anti-competitive agreement (50455)

The CMA has issued a decision imposing fines on suppliers of fludrocortisone acetate tablets for breaching competition law.

Case timetable

Date Action
30 September 2020 Non-confidential infringement decision published
9 July 2020 Infringement Decision issued and settlement announced
June 2020 A third party agreed to settle the investigation with the CMA
1 June 2020 The CMA secured a disqualification undertaking from a director of one of the companies alleged to have breached competition law
23 January 2020 Announcement that a second party agreed to settle the investigation with the CMA
3 October 2019 Statement of objections issued
3 October 2019 Decision to accept commitments published
14 August to 2 September 2019 Commitments consultation period
14 August 2019 Consultation opened on commitments proposed by Aspen
14 August 2019 Announcement that a party agreed to settle the investigation with the CMA
Q3 2019 Investigation continuing (further update by the end of Q3)
May to Q1 2019 (estimate) Further investigation including further information gathering. CMA analysis and review of information gathered.
May 2018 Decision taken to proceed with investigation into certain conduct and parties.
October 2017 to May 2018 Initial investigation and information gathering. CMA analysis and review of information gathered.
October 2017 Investigation opened.

Change log

The following changes have been made to the case timetable since it was first published in October 2017:

Date of change Reason for change Change made to timetable
23 January 2020 The CMA and a party entered into settlement Announcement of the settlement
3 October 2019 The CMA has decided to issue a statement of objections Announcement of the issue of a statement of objections
3 October 2019 The CMA has accepted the commitments offered by Aspen Publication of the decision to accept
14 August 2019 Additional time needed to reach decision on whether to issue a statement of objections Date for CMA decision on whether to issue a statement of objections changed from Q2 to September/October 2019
14 August 2019 The CMA is consulting on commitments offered by Aspen, which, if accepted, would result in the termination of certain aspects of the CMA’s investigation Date for commitments consultation period and for CMA decision on whether to accept commitments added
14 August 2019 The CMA and a party entered into settlement Announcement of the settlement
28 March 2019 Additional time needed to analyse information Date for CMA decision on whether to issue a statement of objections changed from Q1 2019 to Q2 2019
26 October 2018 Additional time needed to gather and analyse additional information Date for CMA decision on whether to issue a statement of objections changed from November 2018 to Q1 2019
19 April 2018 Additional time needed to gather and analyse additional information Date for completing initial investigation and information gathering changed from April 2018 to May 2018

Procedural Officer decision

30 September 2020: The CMA has published a Procedural Officer decision concerning the investigation.

Non-confidential infringement decision

30 September 2020: The CMA has published a non-confidential version of the infringement decision in this case.

Infringement decision and settlement

9 July 2020: The CMA has issued an infringement decision finding that 3 suppliers of fludrocortisone acetate tablets infringed UK and EU competition law.

The CMA found that between March and October 2016, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited, Aspen Global Inc., Aspen Pharma Ireland Limited and Aspen Pharma Trading Limited (together, Aspen), Amilco Limited (Amilco) and Tiofarma B.V. and Tiofarma Beheer B.V. (together, Tiofarma) infringed Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union by entering into an anti-competitive agreement in relation to the supply of fludrocortisone acetate 0.1 mg tablets in the UK. All three companies have admitted to breaching competition law by entering into this agreement.

Director disqualification undertakings

1 June 2020: The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) secured a legally binding disqualification undertaking from Mr Amit Patel, a director of Amilco Limited. Mr Patel has given a disqualification undertaking not to act as a director of any UK company for 5 years as of 13 July 2020.

Under the Company Directors Disqualification Act, the CMA has the power to apply to the court to disqualify a director from holding company directorships or performing certain roles in relation to a company for a specified period, if a company which he or she is a director of has breached competition law. The Act also allows the CMA to accept a disqualification undertaking from a director instead of bringing proceedings, which has the same legal effect as a disqualification order.

Settlement

23 January 2020: The CMA announced that Tiofarma had admitted to participating in an anti-competitive agreement in relation to the supply of Fludrocortisone Acetate Tablets in the UK and agreed to pay a maximum fine of £186,442.

Amilco, suspected to be part of the same alleged infringement, has not made any admissions.

Statement of objections

On 3 October 2019: The CMA issued a statement of objections alleging that Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited, Aspen Global Inc., Aspen Pharma Ireland Limited and Aspen Pharma Trading Limited (together, Aspen), Amilco Limited (Amilco) and Tiofarma and Tiofarma Beheer B.V (together, Tiofarma) infringed UK and EU competition law by entering into an anti-competitive agreement in relation to the supply of fludrocortisone acetate 0.1 mg tablets (Fludrocortisone Acetate Tablets) in the UK. Aspen has admitted to breaching competition law by entering into this agreement (see further below under Settlement).

Notes

  • The investigation is under Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 (CA98) and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
  • No conclusion should be drawn that there has been an infringement of competition law at this stage and the recipients of the Statement of Objections will now have the opportunity to respond to the allegations.
  • The CMA will consider any representations it receives before any decision is taken as to whether competition law has in fact been infringed.

Decision to accept binding commitments

On 3 October 2019, the CMA published its decision to accept binding commitments offered by Aspen to address the competition concerns identified by the CMA as arising from Aspen’s acquisition in October 2016 of marketing authorisations for Fludrocortisone Acetate Tablets in the UK, in circumstances where Aspen held the only other such product authorised for sale in the UK.

Following the formal acceptance of these commitments, the CMA has ceased to investigate this transaction under UK and EU competition law, with no decision made on whether or not there has been an infringement.

Consultation on commitments: now closed

On 14 August 2019, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a notice of intention to accept binding commitments previously offered by Aspen and invited responses to a consultation, which closed on 2 September 2019.

The commitments offered by Aspen seek to address the CMA’s competition concerns arising from Aspen’s acquisition in October 2016 of marketing authorisations for fludrocortisone acetate 0.1 mg tablets (Fludrocortisone Acetate Tablets) in the UK, in circumstances where Aspen held the only other such product authorised for sale in the UK.

Settlement

On 14 August 2019, the CMA announced that Aspen had admitted to participating in an anti-competitive agreement in relation to the supply of Fludrocortisone Acetate Tablets in the UK and agreed to pay a maximum fine of £2,101,954.

Amilco and Tiofarma, suspected to be part of the same alleged infringement, have not made any admissions.

Case information

On 10 October 2017, the CMA launched an investigation under Chapters I and II of the Competition Act 1998 (CA98) and Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) into suspected breaches of competition law by Aspen and other parties. Since accepting binding commitments from Aspen, on 3 October 2019, the CMA is no longer investigating the suspected conduct under Chapter II of CA98 and Article 102 of the TFEU. Since that date, the investigation has related only to a suspected anti-competitive agreements and/or concerted practices and suspected abuse of dominance in relation to the supply of Fludrocortisone Acetate Tablets in the UK.

During the course of its investigation, the CMA undertook a number of investigative steps to gather evidence from Aspen and other parties.

Further detail of the CMA’s procedures in CA98 cases is available in our guidance.

Contacts

Assistant Directors

Sophie Mitchell (020 3738 6905, sophie.mitchell@cma.gov.uk)

Nathalie Lobel-Lastmann (020 3738 6789, nathalie.lobel-lastmann@cma.gov.uk)

Project Director

Pietro Menis (020 3738 6251, pietro.menis@cma.gov.uk)

Senior Responsible Officer

Ann Pope (020 3738 6786, ann.pope@cma.gov.uk)

Director of Litigation

Jessica Radke (020 3738 6376, jessica.radke@cma.gov.uk)

Published 13 October 2017
Last updated 9 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Infringement decision and settlement published.

  2. The CMA has secured a disqualification undertaking from a director of one of the companies alleged to have breached competition law.

  3. Decision announced that the CMA and a party have reached a settlement.

  4. Announcement of the issue of a statement of objections, and decision to accept commitments published.

  5. Notice of intention to accept binding commitments published.

  6. Case timetable updated: Investigation continuing (further update by the end of Q3)

  7. Date for CMA decision on whether to issue a statement of objections changed from Q1 2019 to Q2 2019.

  8. Updated case timetable published.

  9. Case timetable updated.

  10. Case timetable updated.

  11. First published.