SA-based Aspen sees shares drop as it faces claims it increased cancer meds by nearly 4,000%

Shares in Aspen Pharmacare fell 2.5% on Tuesday following a report by British newspaper The Times, accusing the South African company of withholding drugs to try to drive up prices in European markets.

Citing leaked emails, The Times newspaper reported staff at Aspen discussed destroying supplies of life-saving cancer medicines during a price dispute with the Spanish health service in 2014.

Aspen, based in the South African city of Durban, has expanded overseas to benefit from the expiry of patents on best-selling drugs. That has helped to fuel a more than nine-fold increase in its share price since early 2008, according to Reuters.

The company said the oncology drugs in question generated sales in the European Union of 60 million euros in the year to the end of June 2016, much of which was achieved on an average price of approximately 2 euros per tablet.

“Out of respect for the integrity of ongoing legal processes with European regulators, as well as the court in Italy, Aspen will not comment on these public allegations,” the company said in a statement.

“Instead, Aspen looks forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the integrity and legality of its practices in the context of these legal processes.”


Read: Lifeline for big medical aid changes coming in April

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SA-based Aspen sees shares drop as it faces claims it increased cancer meds by nearly 4,000%