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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee

 
 

Press Release Government plans to change medicines pricing could make it harder for sick people to get treatment

  • 07.05.2013
  • Julia Manning & Barbara Arzymanow

2020health today publish a review from a patient’s perspective of the government’s plans to change the way medicines are priced. Julia Manning, CEO of 2020health said: “Patients are usually blissfully unaware of pricing negotiations but the Government’s new plans for pricing will politicise a formerly non-contentious issue.”

“This report entitled “Value-based pricing: the wrong medicine for the nation?” takes the approach of asking what concerns would the public have if a new system of ‘value-based pricing’ were introduced. Despite the intensive negotiations and new promises to include patients further in deliberations this is an idea it seems was flawed from the start. “Our primary concern is to ensure that sick people have as rapid access as possible to new medicines in the UK, and to give the UK the best possible environment to continue to attract research and development across all life sciences.”

The report includes the following points about introducing value-based pricing:
1. Losing current industry-government negotiated ‘patient access schemes’ will reduce not improve access to medicines.
2. The public could see the pricing of medicines made into a political issue.
3. Patients will know that ‘value’ is subjective – it can’t be given a finite number.
4. Patients would have valid concerns about fairness.
5. Patients know that value alone cannot determine drug prices because commercial competition imposes a ceiling.
6. The public would soon realise that value-based pricing cannot easily be applied to the most important medical breakthroughs.
7. The difficulty with pricing a drug which is used for different conditions.

Barbara Arzymanow, main author of the report said:
“The public have been told that politicians are staying out of the NHS, so this change could seem like hypocritical interference. Patients could mistake value-based pricing for a commitment to make more medicines available, which is not the case. One product can have many uses and dosage regimes which are of different ‘value’ to different people. Pricing of medicines can be improved, but not through this entirely new scheme. The confidence of patients and the future of medicine are more important than words.”

The report urges the Government to consider solutions including:
1. Continue allowing drug companies to fix their own prices for individual drugs with new controls operating at the higher level of the entire cost of each company’s drugs to the NHS. The current PPRS achieves this aim mainly by a profit cap but the same objective could be achieved in other ways e.g. a revenue cap, a trading margin cap.

2. Companies would commit to enabling access to their products under the NHS except in extreme cases by adjusting their prices appropriately, for example by lowering the price of older drugs by enough to accommodate high enough prices for new products.

3. Provide a fair financial return to all companies, taking into account the broader need to control government spending, the benefit to the UK economy from high-technology investment and the desirability of R&D to ensure that medicine continues to advance. A pricing system should also encourage companies not to overlook rarer diseases in search of drugs for more lucrative markets, for example, by offering a bonus for drugs treating less common conditions.

4. Encourage more ‘patient access schemes’ to help make drugs available to patients on the NHS at a cost that the drug industry would otherwise find unacceptably low.
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Notes to Editors

1. For more information call Julia Manning or Barbara Arzymanow on
    020 3411 8615

 

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