UK vows to speed up drug review in return for 2% sales cap

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/IR_Stone)
(Image: Getty/IR_Stone)

Related tags Uk ABPI NICE

UK government and ABPI have agreed a deal to limit branded drug sales growth to 2%, potentially reducing the cost of medicine by £930m.

The announcement was made after the UK government and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) provisionally signed the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access, replacing the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme.

Though the details will be finalised prior to the agreement, which comes into effect from January 2019, the two key details released are: branded medicines will be subject to a 2% cap on sales growth – with pharma companies repaying the NHS for sales over this limit –  and appraisals of new technology applications by NICE will be completed up to six months faster than current timelines.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, responded to both parts in a statement; on speeding up drug review, he said: “This agreement is a commitment by the government and the NHS to work with us to support innovation for the benefit of patients. This means that people across the UK should see better and faster access to the most effective new medicines and vaccines.”

With regard to sales restrictions, he said: “Under the scheme, the NHS will have absolute certainty that the sales of branded medicines will not grow by more than 2% in any of the next five years – or industry refunds the money.  This is a significant contribution by pharmaceutical companies to support the NHS.”

The total saving the NHS could make, under the new agreement, is approximately £930m ($1.1bn). Across the board, the ABPI separately stated that the growth of NHS’ spend on medicines over the last five years has been 1.1%.

According to UK Health Minister, James O’Shaughnessy, the agreement represents a vote of confidence for the UK life sciences sector.

“[It] shows the NHS is ready to embrace innovation so that patients get the best medicines earlier,” ​he added.

With Brexit negotiations reaching fever pitch, the UK government has been solidifying its ties with the life sciences industry over the last few weeks. This has seen the government invest in advanced therapeutics manufacture​, and facilitate the UK to become one of the first countries in the world to make chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-t treatments available to patients​.

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