'The owner of High Street chemist Boots has been accused of 'exploiting cancer patients' by charging the NHS £3,220 for a drug that costs just £93 elsewhere.
Boots' parent company, whose biggest shareholder is Monaco billionaire Stefano Pessina, often supplies the Health Service with a mouthwash that relieves patients of painful sores left after chemotherapy.
The liquid drug is known as a 'special' - an unlicensed medicine bought especially by the NHS to treat patients with particular needs.
Specials cost the NHS £75million a year and can be so expensive some patients are told they can't have them.
Because they are so rarely used, suppliers can charge what they like for them.
Records seen by The Times show a Boots-owned company charged between £3,220 for three 200ml bottles of the special mouthwash for cancer patients in extreme pain.
Health documents also show the same amount could be bought from a pharmacy in West Sussex for £93.42.
Boots sister company Alliance Healthcare, owned by umbrella company Walgreens Boots Alliance, placed four other orders for the specialist mouthwash in recent years.
After the newspaper's findings showed they were all far higher in price than they could have been, Boots has been accused of cashing in on a legal loophole and exploiting cancer patients.
Steve Brine, health minister, told the paper: 'The British public will take an extremely dim view of any company found to be exploiting our NHS and patients, and we have asked the Competition and Markets Authority to consider investigating as a priority.'
Earlier this year Walgreens Boots Alliance was revealed to be charging £1,579 a pot for medically-approved moisturiser that is available for £1.23 elsewhere.'
Read more: Owner of High Street chemist Boots is accused of 'exploiting cancer patients' by charging the NHS £3,220 for pain relieving mouthwash that can cost £93
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23 July 2019
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