Leaked internal emails appear to show employees at one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies calling for “celebration” over price hikes of cancer drugs, an investigation has revealed.
Staff at Aspen Pharmacare reportedly plotted to destroy stocks of life-saving medicines during a price dispute with the Spanish health service in 2014.
After purchasing five different cancer drugs from British firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the company tried to sell the medicines in Europe for up to 40 times their previous price, reported The Times.
The other four drugs, including Leukeran, also used by leukaemia patients, and melphalan (trade name Alkeran), for skin and ovarian cancers, also became up to four times more expensive.
Price rises for generic cancer drugs, such as those acquired by Aspen, cost the NHS in England around £380m a year for prescriptions dispensed outside hospitals, the European Cancer Congress has estimated.
In a confidential email published by The Times, an Aspen employee appeared to write: “We’ve signed new reimbursement and price agreement successfully: price increases are basically on line with European target prices (Leukeran, a bit higher!)... Let’s celebrate!”
When bargaining over drug prices in Spain, the pharmaceutical giant is said to have threatened to stop selling the cancer treatments unless the health minister agreed to price rises of up to 4,000 per cent, reported Spanish online newspaper El Confidencial Digital at the time.
Now another leaked email appears to reveal that staff at Aspen discussed destroying their supplies of the drug in the row.
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