No spin doctor in the house?
Aspen’s pricing scandal jolts investors
Price gouging fine is made public, while a report finds scant evidence that a ‘moral code’ is applied in its business dealings
Aspen Pharmacare made headlines in the British press over the weekend for failing to disclose a €5.2m fine in 2016 for "price gouging" — essentially hiking prices to a level considered exploitative. But the company’s belated response left much to be desired. Aspen’s response has been simply to highlight how small a part of its entire portfolio the drugs at the centre of this scandal really are. These oncology drugs generated turnover of €60m (R963m) in the 2016 financial year, Aspen said, which amounted to just 2.7% of its R35.6bn in revenue for last year. It was a bland stock exchange announcement that failed to engage with the issue, instead hiding behind the skirts of a claim that the matter was sub judice. Little wonder that on the first day of trading after the media reports of the not-so-new allegations, the Aspen share price slumped 4.14% to R268.50, close to a 12-month low for the former darling of the investment community. Clearly Aspen is trying to make investors believe t...