Business / Industries

Drugs companies fined for price fixing

By Wang Yanfei (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-29 08:23

Five Chinese pharmaceutical companies have been fined a combined total of 4 million yuan ($608,000) for acting in collusion to fix the price of a common medication.

The drug, allopurinol, is listed as an essential medicine in China and is widely used to treat gout and hyperuricemia, or abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the nation's top pricing regulator, found that Chongqing Qingyang, Jiangsu Shimaotianjie and Shanghai Xinyi, which have been the only three domestic producers of allopurinol tablets since 2014, reached monopoly agreements with two distributors, Chongqing Datong and Shangqiu Huajie over the drug.

"Five companies have been fined for colluding to manipulate pricing and for dividing the market of a common tablet," said Lu Yanchun, deputy inspector of the Price Supervision and Anti-Monopoly Bureau at the commission, adding that the cartel's actions had negatively impacted consumer welfare and market competition in China.

"Even though the fine is not the largest issued since the NDRC began bringing actions against pricing collusion, it is significant," said Lu.

Between 2014 and 2015, the price of allopurinol tablets increased fourfold, and the three producers agreed to only sell the tablets in designated areas, according to the bureau.

Nearly 60 pharmaceutical manufacturers, including both domestic and foreign-owned companies, were subjected to probes under China's Antitrust Law in 2013.

The first fines issued by the NDRC against members of the industry were in 2011, when two companies were ordered to pay a total of 7 million yuan ($1.06 million).

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