Cost of Drugs to the NHS

October 2017

I have noted concerns about the cost of pharmaceutical drugs to the NHS.

However, the Government is committed to paying only a fair price for medicines used in the NHS. Where companies exploit the NHS by charging higher prices, this money cannot be spent elsewhere on patient care.

The Government has recently legislated to ensure that high prices of generic medicines can be better controlled. This action reflects the Government’s determination to ensure that no pharmaceutical company can charge unjustifiably high prices for medicines used in the NHS.

In 2016, the Secretary of State for Health asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to urgently look into whether pharmaceutical companies are exploiting the NHS by increasing their prices. The CMA have fined companies that have been found to be charging excessive prices and the Department of Health continues to work closely with the CMA on further investigations into the pharmaceutical sector.

The Government also works with the pharmaceutical industry on a range of issues, including the pricing of new medicines, through mechanisms such as the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme. This scheme is a voluntary agreement between the Government and pharmaceutical industry which controls the costs of branded medicines sold to the NHS.

The Government also commissioned the Accelerated Access Review which has set out a range of ways we can improve and speed up access to the latest treatments but do so affordably for the NHS. You may also be interested to know that the Government is running a public consultation into medicines which should not be routinely prescribed in primary care, in order to assess areas in which the NHS has been spending money on expensive, and clinically ineffective medicines.

Through measures such as this, the Government is taking action to ensure drugs represent value for money to the NHS and the UK taxpayer.