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£4m settlement in price-fix claim

A British drugs company has settled a £4m claim with the Department of Health over the alleged price-fixing of medicines.

The government has accused a number of firms of operating a cartel in a civil claim, but Goldshield Group Plc has now made the offer, without admitting liability.

A criminal trial against nine individuals and five companies, including Goldshield, Kent Pharmaceuticals Limited, Norton Healthcare Limited, Generics (UK) Limited, and Ranbaxy (UK) Limited, on charges of conspiracy to defraud the NHS, is still scheduled for January.

All the firms involved deny any wrongdoing.

The settlement follows allegations that Goldshield was involved in the price-fixing of warfarin, which is used to thin the blood.

Next year's court case, brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), relates to allegations concerning warfarin, the branded blood-thinning drug Marevan and penicillin-based antibiotics, supplied to the NHS between January 1996 and December 2000.

Prices usually fall dramatically due to competition, but in these instances the costs allegedly remained constant or rose.

In 2002, police raided six drug companies as part of the inquiry into the alleged multi-million pound scam.

The case was referred to the SFO after initial inquiries were carried out by the counter fraud directorate of the Department of Health.

A statement issued by the department said: "The Department of Health and Goldshield Group Plc, Goldshield Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Forley Generics Limited (Goldshield) are pleased to jointly announce settlement of the claims brought against Goldshield for alleged anticompetitive cartel conduct in connection with the supply to the NHS of generic drugs."

Department of Health

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