U.K. public believes not enough is being spent on medicines
A new survey has found more than half (52%) of English adults believe that not enough of the NHS budget is being spent on medicines. The survey was commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which includes research-based biopharmaceutical companies in the U.K.
The ComRes poll of more than 1,700 adults showed the number rises in older adults, with 60% of adults ages 55 and over believing the NHS’s current 10 cents of every $1 spent on medicines was “not enough,” compared with 40% of adults ages 18 to 24.
About 57% of women and 47% of men polled believe not enough currently is spent on medicines compared with other NHS spending on hospitals, staff and equipment.
This survey comes against the backdrop of a party conference season in which all major parties have promised to make the NHS a priority over the next Parliament despite continued constraints on public spending. The Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats have offered NHS funding increases of more than $1.6 billion, while the Conservatives have said that they will protect the NHS budget in real terms until the next decade.
Access to innovative treatments remains a key issue for voters, and the survey indicates the value in ensuring the right patients get the right choice of medicine, at the right time.
The survey also shows:
- 90% of English adults believe the government should do more to make sure people across the U.K. can get the latest medicines when they have a serious or life-threatening illness. 84% agreed the NHS should ensure patients with rare conditions have access to the widest possible range of medicines, regardless of the cost.
- 93% agree patients in England should have a right to the same medicines available to people living in Scotland and Wales, and vice versa.
- 63% believe if the NHS budget increases, some of the extra money should be spent on providing the latest medicines instead of being funneled into other areas.
- 32% say a political promise to spend more on ensuring people with serious or life-threatening illnesses could have the latest medicines would make them more likely to vote for that party.
ABPI’s 2015 manifesto is calling on the next Parliament to “redouble efforts to boost patients’ access to innovative medicines” under the new Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS), in which the biopharmaceutical industry has committed to keep NHS spending on branded medicines flat for two years and under 2% for the following three years.
The manifesto also calls for the government to:
- Conduct a review of how NICE can better align to help meet the U.K.’s priorities, including reviewing the suitability of the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) alongside other measures for determining how NHS resources should be utilized.
- Make the many medicines not referred to NICE available to patients as early as possible by ensuring they are adopted and funded by NHS organizations. This also should be reflected in the NHS Constitution to strengthen patients’ rights to new medicines.
- Embed accountability for delivering patients’ rights to access new medicines, on the advice of their clinician, in NHS England’s performance monitoring system.
- Run a public awareness campaign on the NHS Constitution, give clearer guidance for patients on their rights and provide a single route of redress through Health Watch England if their rights have not been met.
- Hold a multi-stakeholder strategic review of stratified medicines and their use in the NHS to identify key challenges and recommend further policy measures to improve patient access to these innovative medicines.