A new forecast by the Office of Health Economics, for the ABPI, has shown that total National Health Service (NHS) spending on medicines is well under control, while expenditure on innovative branded medicines is actually set to shrink in real terms and as a proportion of the healthcare budget over the next three years.
This has raised concerns from the head of the research-based pharmaceutical industry in the U.K. about how little the NHS is spending on the most innovative medicines and the slow speed at which patients can access new treatments compared with other European countries.
The research found that while the total amount spent on the NHS is set to rise by 2.5% annually between 2011 and 2015, spending on new branded medicines will rise by just 1.3% annually. There will be a very slight increase in the growth of the total amount spent on medicines annually from 3.5% (the figure for 2007 – 2011) to 3.7% annually up to 2015, which is driven by an increase in the proportion spent on generic medicines. The figures also revealed that in three years' time medicines launched between 2012 and 2015 will account for less than 2% of total spending on medicines.
"I am deeply concerned that these savings are not being reinvested back into the system because these figures show our spending on the newest and most advanced medicines is declining in real terms,” said Stephen Whitehead, CEO of the ABPI. “This spells bad news for the discovery of new life saving medicines and ultimately the health and well-being of UK patients.
Whitehead continued, "Looking ahead, as we start to prepare for negotiations with government on the next medicines pricing scheme, we need to see our medicines rewarded for the high risk and cost of research and development. Once medicines are ready for use by patients, we want them available on the NHS as quickly as possible so as many patients as possible can reap the health benefits."
In good news for the NHS, the expiry of patent exclusivity for medicines over the next three years will save the healthcare system a total of $5.3 billion and demonstrates that the research-based pharmaceutical industry is playing its part in delivering efficiencies.