The ABPI and the Department of Health have announced their intention to underwrite the growth in the medicines bill for the second quarter of 2015.
This initiative will be taken under the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) that was agreed last year.
The PPRS is a purely voluntary agreement between the two parties involved, although the existing understanding between the Department of Health and ABPI will run until the end of 2018, having come into effect on 1st January, 2014.
Under the terms of the payments, the ABPI and the Department of Health will make a payment of £209 million during the current financial quarter.
In 2015, the industry has already contributed £416m in PPRS payments to support the ongoing usage of branded medicine in the NHS.
During 2014, the pharmaceuticals industry paid a total of £310 million to the Department of Health under the PPRS, and it is anticipating payments totalling £800 million for 2015.
But as funding becomes an increasing challenge, figures released indicate that the growth in branded medicine is slowing down significantly.
In the second quarter of 2015, the growth rate of branded medicines utilised in the scheme was 2.41 per cent.
To put this figure into perspective, this was half the rate for the same period last year.
Speaking about the issue, David Watson, Director of Pricing and Reimbursement for the ABPI proclaimed the scheme to be a success story. “As an industry, we want to see patients getting access to the best high value medicines across all therapy areas. This Scheme provides the NHS with a unique opportunity to give patients in the UK greater access to new and innovative treatments at minimal cost,” Watson claimed.
However, Watson was also forced to concede that the growth rate in branded medicines was less than ideal.
“We are deeply concerned that the reduced growth rate shown in the second quarter suggests that patients in the UK are still losing out. Whilst industry is underwriting the medicines bill, patients are still not getting access to the right medicines at the right time,” Watson admitted.
The sub-par figures in this area can be underlined by comparing the United Kingdom to mainland Europe.
The UK, in fact, lags significantly behind the rest of Europe with regard to investment in medicines, if one uses the measurement of expenditure on pharmaceuticals per resident.
Figures released related to the PPRS agreement would seem to suggest that this situation is declining further still.
Watson acknowledged this, and made a plea for action to be taken to address the situation. “This is bad news for patients – we urge the NHS to ensure the PPRS payments allow clinicians to prescribe the medicines that they believe are right for their patients.”
In total, 134 companies, representing 93 per cent of the UK branded industry, have joined the voluntary PPRS.