Competition watchdog fines pharma firm over pricing of crucial thyroid drug

Support us and go ad-freeThe UK’s competition watchdog has handed a pharmaceutical company a multimillion-pound fine after it increased the price of some thyroid medication by more than 6,000%. An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found from 2009 until 2017 Advanz charged “excessive and unfair prices” for supplying liothyronine tablets, which are used to treat thyroid hormone deficiency. The watchdog said this was because the drugs faced “limited or no competition”, meaning that it could sustain repeated price increases, which were “not driven by any meaningful innovation or investment”. Andrea Coscelli of the CMA said the increase “came at a huge cost to the NHS,…

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More than 200 jobs could be axed at car parts firm ‘due to Brexit and Covid’

More than 200 jobs at a car parts firm in south Wales face being axed partly due to Brexit and coronavirus, the company has said. Tory Britain Kautex Textron, which has a plant in Ystrad Mynach near Caerphilly, South Wales, said it was discussing possible staff reductions with its workers as well as the potential closure of the site after 51 years in the town. The plant opened in 1970 and makes car parts including water containers and nozzles. A spokesperson for the company told the PA news agency if the decision was made to close the plant it would work to provide other internal opportunities “to as…

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Hancock accused of ‘cronyism’ over shares in family firm which has NHS contracts

Labour has said there are “serious questions to answer” after it was revealed that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has shares in a family company that has contracts with the NHS. Mr Hancock declared in the MPs’ register of interests in March of this year that he now owns over 15% of shares in company Topwood Limited, which specialises in secure storage, shredding and scanning of documents. The Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported that the firm, which is owned and run by his sister, won a place on a framework to provide services to the English NHS in 2019, as well as contracts with the NHS in Wales. NHS…

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Tory government refuses to give details of its renewed NHS contract with this ‘Big Brother’ firm

The Johnson-led government is refusing to publish further details of an NHS contract with a US firm. This firm has been embroiled in controversies relating to intelligence gathering for several years. More transparency needed Palantir was co-founded by billionaire Peter Thiel. Thiel is a board member and major investor of Facebook and was a member of Donald Trump’s transition team. In the UK, Palantir has been awarded a £23m extension of its NHS datastore contract, but this was scrutinised by openDemocracy. This resulted in the government reportedly agreeing “not to extend Palantir’s contract beyond COVID without consulting the public”. openDemocracy also said that the government agreed “to engage…

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Grenfell insulation firm used PR agency to lobby MPs weeks after deadly fire

A Grenfell Tower insulation firm worked with a public relations agency to lobby MPs weeks after the blaze which killed 72 people, an inquiry has heard. Portland Kingspan used Portland over summer 2017 to try to convince “key decision makers” that combustible materials were safe if properly installed. The firm, which manufactured the flammable Kooltherm K15 used on the refurbished London tower block, listed ideal targets on internal documents including then-home secretary Amber Rudd, and then housing secretary Sajid Javid, who went on to be chancellor under Boris Johnson. Michael Gove, who still serves in the Cabinet, was also noted as a “key decision maker” as the secretary…

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‘I will stay in this tree’ – HS2 protesters stand firm as eviction bid restarts

Tensions are building between treehouse protesters obstructing HS2 construction in a forest and evictions officials, as a second day of removals got under way.A number of environmental activists remained camped up trees at Jones’ Hill Wood in Buckinghamshire through lashing wind and rain overnight, after HS2 officials with chainsaws and Thames Valley Police ceased removals on Thursday evening.Roald Dahl wrote his stories in the nearby town of Great Missenden, and classics like Fantastic Mr Fox are said to have taken inspiration from the forest. An anti-HS2 sign on a farmer’s gate in the Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire (Steve Parsons/PA)Steve Masters, a 50-year-old Green Party councillor on West Berkshire Council…

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