Pfizer denies over-charging for cancer drugs

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LUNG CANCER, X-RAY

JOHANNESBURG - US drug maker Pfizer denied allegations that it over-charged for cancer medicines, following an investigation launched on Tuesday into three drug companies by South Africa's competition watchdog.

The Competition Commission said it would investigate Aspen Pharmacare, Africa's biggest generic drug maker, Pfizer and Swiss-based Roche Holding on suspicion of charging too much for cancer medicines.

Pfizer denied the claims and said it would co-operate fully with the investigation.

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"We await the opportunity to be contacted by the Commission to clarify the pricing for this product," it said in a statement.

The Commission said it had information that suggested Pfizer's lung cancer treatment cost approximately R152,000 for 250 mg when bought through an agent.

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Aspen, a local company based in Durban, also denied any wrongdoing, saying it had not increased prices for its medicines used to treat leukaemia beyond the margin approved by the South African health department.

Roche said, in an email, it had not been formally notified by the Commission of the probe but would co-operate fully with the authorities.