Concern at drug pricing plans

Prices of branded drugs will be tackled so their cost matches the value they offer to patients, the government has said.

Drug price could link to value (Photograph: SPL)
Drug price could link to value (Photograph: SPL)

The coalition's 'programme for government' pledges to 'reform NICE and move to a system of value-based pricing, so that all patients can access the drugs and treatments their doctors think they need'.

The Conservative party has previously suggested that NICE could be involved in price discussions and that, if treatments are not deemed cost-effective, the NHS would only pay for treatments shown to work in particular patients.

Professor Karol Sikora of pharmaceutical consultancy TranScrip Partners said policies on value-based pricing would need to be considered carefully.

'It is hard to see how the NHS will be an attractive customer to the global pharmaceutical industry if selling to it requires fulfilling a bureaucratic procurement process,' he said.

Dr Sarah Wilson of the University of Central Lancashire, an expert in the ethics of healthcare provision, said the way value-based pricing was being presented implied decisions about which medicines are available to patients could be made on a case-by-case basis, ignoring the wider economic context.

NICE said it looked forward to seeing the detail of the government's proposals and would happily work with it to 'secure high quality, good value health and social care'.

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