SOUTH AFRICAN COMPETITION COMMISSION TO LITIGATE AGAINST THE EXCESSIVE PRICING OF BREAST CANCER TREATMENT DRUGS


By Joshua Eveleigh

On 08 February 2022, the Competitors Fee (“Fee”) launched a press assertion indicating that it had referred a matter to the Competitors Tribunal (“Tribunal”) for the prosecution of Roche Holding AG (“Roche AG”), and its subsidiaries, Roche Bassel and Roche South Africa.

The character of the Fee’s referral is premised on allegations that Roche AG and its subsidiaries had imposed extreme costs for Trastuzumab, a breast most cancers remedy drug, in contravention of part 8(1)(a) of the Competitors Act 89 of 1998 (“Competitors Act”). Because of the alleged conduct, the Fee has estimated that an extra of 10 000 breast most cancers sufferers have been unable to afford Trastuzumab between the interval of 2011 and 2019.

In its press assertion, the Fee positioned explicit emphasis on the truth that the alleged conduct bore the best affect on poor girls who “…can’t entry important remedy as a result of they can’t afford to pay for it. That is so even for the minority of girls who belong to medical schemes.”

Notably, the latest Constitutional Courtroom choice in Competitors Fee v Mediclinic (“Mediclinic”) has had a seemingly profound affect on the Fee’s strategy in the direction of the current matter. In Mediclinic, the Constitutional Courtroom emphasised the significance of the Structure when decoding and adjudicating competitors legislation – particularly in regard to part 27, the appropriate to have entry to well being care providers. In its judgment, the Constitutional Courtroom referred to each the Tribunal and the Competitors Attraction Courtroom (“CAC”) as state establishments which have the duty to facilitate the Invoice of Rights and to advertise the appropriate of entry to well being providers. Because of the Mediclinic judgment, the Fee has acknowledged that the alleged conduct leads to the prevention of entry to well being providers, in contravention of part 27(1)(a) of the Structure.

As a result of egregious nature of the alleged conduct, the Fee states that it’s searching for that the utmost penalty be imposed towards Rosche AG and its subsidiaries. On this regard, part 59(2) of the Competitors Act gives that the utmost administrative penalty which may be imposed “could not exceed 10 per cent of the agency’s annual turnover within the Republic and its exports from the Republic throughout the agency’s previous monetary 12 months.”

The Fee’s referral to the Tribunal and the grounds on which it depends, emphasises the overarching significance of the Mediclinic judgment in that an alleged conduct’s affect on the Invoice of Rights, and public coverage issues because of this, is now preeminent consideration available respect of all elements of competitors legislation.

Primerio Worldwide associate, Michael-James Currie says the South African Competitors Fee has been probably the most lively companies globally insofar as prosecuting extreme pricing circumstances is anxious, however and have had restricted success so far. Subsequent to the amendments to the Competitors Act in 2018, there has not been a case that has been totally litigated earlier than the adjudicative our bodies.

Will probably be fascinating to see how this case progresses and the extent to which non-traditional competitors elements are in the end taken into consideration in decoding the scope and utility of the extreme pricing provisions contained within the Competitors Act.

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