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The Competition Commission’s investigation into pharmaceutical companies for alleged "excessive pricing, price discrimination and/or exclusionary conduct" could easily be a plot line in one of Frans Kafka’s works. The investigation demonstrates prices determined by one government agency could be found to have been illegally determined by another. The holding of a patent approved by one arm of government in compliance with patent laws, could also be found to be illegal and punishable by another arm of government. The government regulates the price of medicines sold in the private sector through the single exit price mechanism. It compels manufacturers and importers to charge the same prices for products sold to private sector customers, regardless of the size of the order. It also prohibits them from offering discounts or donating medicines. The Department of Health is not subject to these constraints. Its pricing committee stipulates the annual increase the private sector will charg...

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