The Competition and Markets Authority has disqualified former Lexon director Pritesh Sonpal from taking up a directorial role and any involvement in the management of a company in England, Scotland or Wales for four years.
Mr Sonpal was disqualified after the CMS found wholesaler Lexon, as well as pharmaceutical companies King Pharmaceuticals and Alissa Healthcare Research, illegally shared commercially sensitive information about nortriptyline, a drug used to treat depression.
The three companies were found to have reduced competition by exchanging data on pricing, the volumes they were supplying and information about Alissa’s plans to enter the market as the cost of the drug fell between 2015 and 2017.
The CMA’s ruling in March 2020 resulted in Lexon receiving a £1.2m fine for breaking competition law, a decision the wholesaler appealed against before it was upheld by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in February last year.
“In connection with Mr Sonpal’s involvement in Lexon’s illegal information sharing, the CMA applied to the court seeking his disqualification as a company director. Mr Sonpal has now accepted the CAT’s findings that his actions caused Lexon to participate in the illegal exchange of sensitive commercial information,” the CMA said.
CMA executive director of enforcement Michael Grenfell said the ruling should serve as a warning that any director whose company breaches competition law faces disqualification.
“While Mr Sonpal was a director, Lexon illegally shared commercially sensitive information with competitors, which typically reduces competition so that the NHS as customer – and ultimately UK taxpayers – could have been paying over the odds for an important drug,” Mr Grenfell said.
“These actions are unacceptable. We will continue to crack down on law-breaking companies and directors to protect vulnerable patients, the NHS and taxpayers.”