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After being forced to reassess its original findings, a U.K. antitrust watchdog has issued a provisional ruling that Pfizer (PFE) and a small generic company engaged in price gouging for an epilepsy pill, causing the National Health Service to unnecessarily overpay for a “vital” medicine.

The decision is the latest in an eight-year odyssey in which the Competition and Markets Authority has sought to prove that the companies unfairly dominated the market for the drug. But its effort has been beset by fines, appeals, and court rulings, which required the agency to go back to the proverbial drawing board in one of its highest-profile attempts to police the pharmaceutical industry.


Here’s the back story: In 2016, the CMA fined Pfizer and Flynn Pharma $113 million for deliberately exploiting their market share by jacking up the price of the epilepsy drug. The drug in question is phenytoin sodium, which was once sold by Pfizer under the Epanutin brand name. Pfizer’s share of the fine was $106 million. Both companies appealed.

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