Drug prices post-Brexit – an expensive pill to swallow?

June 15, 2016

(by Farasat Bokhari) Much has already been written about the potential effects of Brexit on both the British economy as well as the rest of the word, vis-à-vis effects on immigration, employment, wages, inflation, investment, growth and so forth, and by now we know that either the sky is going to fall or it will be like manna falling from the sky.  Definitely one of those two.  Reality however is a bit more nuanced, and what follows may be sector specific and depend on the regulations and terms that are negotiated upon exit.  Post exit, will the UK be on its own in terms of trade agreements with the rest of the world, or will it, like Norway, be able to enjoy benefits of a single market by entering into European Economic Area (EEA)? Not to be gauche, how does it affect the price of my medicines here in the UK?   While the Farage v. Cameron debate rages on, in this blog I give example from just one sector – pharmaceuticals – to discuss how prices of branded drugs, which include new and important therapies, may increase due to various trade agreements post Brexit. Read the rest of this entry »


Should markets be regulated in Brussels or London? Brexit and competition policy

May 26, 2016

(by Bruce Lyons) Much of the UK referendum debate jumps in on headline details about specific ‘regulatory burdens’ without thinking carefully about how to compare membership of the EU against life outside the single market.  In this post, I set out a framework for thinking about the economic advantages and disadvantages of having regulation harmonised across the EU (and possibly implemented centrally in Brussels), as compared with an independent UK-specific regulation (for implementation in London or the devolved nations).[1]  Read the rest of this entry »


Pfizer/AstraZeneca and the Public Interest: Do Vince Cable’s Foreign Takeover Proposals Prescribe the Right Medication?

August 12, 2014

(by David Reader) When US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer sought to acquire its UK-listed counterpart AstraZeneca earlier this year, discussion centred around the supposed adverse impact that the merger could have on the UK’s science base, particularly in light of Pfizer’s questionable track record for asset-stripping and cutting investment in R&D. Although the proposed £69 billion takeover ultimately crumbled, the prospect of Pfizer returning with an improved offer later in the year has led many to ask whether the UK should adopt a tougher stance on foreign takeovers that threaten the national interest. The UK’s Business Secretary, Vince Cable MP, has since proposed new safeguards to counteract these perceived threats – but do they represent the best course of action in practice? Read the rest of this entry »


Competition Policy and Scottish Independence

July 1, 2014

(by Andreas Stephan) On 18 September 2014 Scottish residents will be asked whether Scotland should be an independent country. A discussion was held at the recent Antitrust Enforcement Symposium (held by the University of Oxford’s Centre for Competition Law and Policy) regarding competition policy in an independent Scotland. This blog piece focuses on the impact independence would have on competition enforcement in Britain. Read the rest of this entry »


The First Real Test of Sentencing for the UK Cartel Offence

June 24, 2014

(by Andreas Stephan) A former managing director charged with the UK’s cartel offence has pleaded guilty to the criminal offence of price fixing. Peter Nigel Snee pleaded guilty to fixing the price of galvanised steel tanks used for water storage and now awaits sentencing. His case provides an important first test for the sentencing of cartelists under the UK’s criminal offence. Although Snee is the fourth individual to be convicted of the offence, the first three (in the Marine Hoses case) actually requested custodial sentences because of the peculiar conditions of a plea bargain entered into with the US Department of Justice. The issue of whether Snee receives a custodial sentence is important to justifying the use of criminal sanctions in UK cartel enforcement. Read the rest of this entry »


The UK’s New Cartel Offence: It Could Be Alright on the Day

July 9, 2013

(by Andreas  Stephan) The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 drops the requirement of dishonesty and excludes cartel agreements made openly. At a late stage three additional defences were introduced (s.47 ERRA). The defendant can show they did not intend that the nature of the arrangements be hidden from either their customers or the competition authority. It will also be a defence to show that a defendant took reasonable steps to disclose the nature of the agreement to lawyers, in order to get advice, prior to its making or implementation. Writing on this blog a couple of months ago, my colleague Peter Whelan expressed concern that this defence could pose a devastating blow to the cartel offence. Here I reflect on how this defence could pan out. Read the rest of this entry »


Does the UK’s New Cartel Offence Contain a Devastating Flaw?

May 21, 2013

(by Peter Whelan) On 25 April 2013, after almost one year of making its way through Parliament, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill finally received Royal Assent.  The UK Cartel Offence will be reformed in a number of significant ways when this piece of legislation comes into force later in the year.[1] Unfortunately, a potentially devastating flaw has crept into what started out as a very positive reform. Read the rest of this entry »


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