Aspen pledges to slash cancer drug prices after EU probe

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BRUSSELS, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- South African drug giant Aspen Pharma has pledged to reduce the prices of its life-saving cancer medicines in Europe, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

The European Union's (EU) executive arm said Aspen will reduce the prices of its six critical cancer medicines by an average of 73 percent. In addition, Aspen has ensured the continued supply of these off-patent medicines for a significant period, the commission said in a statement.

The commission had launched the probe in 2017 over suspicions that the company was charging excessive prices for life-saving cancer medicines, abusing its dominant market position in breach of EU antitrust rules.

The investigation covered six critical off-patent cancer medicines mainly used in the treatment of leukemia and other hematological cancers.

After acquiring the medicines from another company in 2009, Aspen started three years later to progressively increase its prices, often by several hundred percent, in all countries in Europe where it sold the medicines, the commission said.

The investigation revealed that Aspen consistently earned very high profits from the sale of these medicines in Europe. Aspen's prices exceeded its relevant costs by almost 300 percent on average, it found.

Margrethe Vestager, one of the commission's executive vice presidents, told a press conference that Aspen could increase the prices because patients and doctors had mostly no alternatives to using these cancer medicines.

"Some patients, including young children, depend on these medicines for their treatment. Aspen's commitments will save European health systems many dozens of million Euros and will ensure that these crucial medicines remain available," she said. Enditem

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