Pfizer released a statement calling the new Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS), agreed to by the U.K. government and industry, a missed opportunity for British patients, the U.K. economy and industry.
The new five-year, multi-billion pricing deal will introduce a fixed limit on NHS spending on branded medicines for the first time ever, with all additional expenditure above this level paid for by industry.
NHS spending on branded medicines, more than $16.2 billion in 2011-2012, will remain flat for two years, followed by small increases of less than 2% during the following three years. This marks a significant savings for the taxpayer when compared to an average growth of 5% in previous years.
The previous agreement generated savings through an agreed price cut on branded medicines sold to the NHS but with no upper limit on overall cost. The bill for branded medicines now will grow at an agreed level. The NHS will spend up to the agreed amount, and any cost above that level will be absorbed by the industry.
Pfizer said the PPRS represents a real and growing disconnect between the government’s stated ambitions and its actions in life sciences, and in improving patient outcomes.
The government’s overriding focus on managing costs and its failure to see medicines as a longer-term investment is a short-term and damaging approach for all those concerned, Pfizer said, most notably for U.K. patients.
Pfizer said medicines spending in the U.K. already is firmly under control. Less than $1 in every $10 of the NHS budget is spent on medicines, and the U.K. spends less per person than comparable countries. By January 2014, the industry already will have given $5.6 billion back to the NHS in price cuts over the last 10 years, and by the end of 2014 it will have saved the NHS a further $4 billion as a result of patent expiries.
While the deal seems to improve access for those medicines already approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Pfizer said it does not address the fundamental problems currently blocking many innovative new medicines from reaching the patients who need them. Too many new medicines, some being developed by scientists in the U.K., are being rejected by NICE, the company said. Since 2005, only 31% of medicines have been recommended by NICE in line with their license, as granted by medicines regulators. This year, of the 12 single technology appraisals on which NICE has made final or preliminary decisions for new cancer medicines, only one has received a positive preliminary recommendation. Of those that are recommended by NICE, said Pfizer, the NHS is too slow to adopt them.
Pfizer concluded that the government price cut, alongside the ongoing issues in assessing medicines for NHS use, sends a clear message that innovation is not truly valued or supported. While the U.K. government wants new medicines to be researched and developed within the country, it is not prepared to pay for the resulting life-changing and life-saving medicines.
Jonathan Emms, U.K. managing director, Pfizer, said, "If the government wants Britain to be a world leader in life sciences, it must act now to address these issues. Now that the deal is agreed, government must take action to fix the U.K. system and ensure that innovative new medicines get to the patients who need them. NICE must be given a new mandate, one that makes it a beacon for innovation."
But Jeremy Hunt, U.K. Health Secretary, said,“This agreement ensures NHS patients will receive the best and most advanced medicines in the world while managing the cost. U.K. pharmaceutical companies have responded to the challenges we face as a country, both in terms of the increased demand for medicines and pressure on public spending. I hope in return we have given them the certainty and backing they need to flourish as a sector both here and in the global market.”