Formal negotiations on drugs pricing regulations for next year will begin in 2018, the pharmacy minister has confirmed.

The Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) is a voluntary agreement between the Government and the pharmaceutical industry body the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). It determines branded medicine costs in the UK, alongside a statutory framework for companies that have not joined it.

Answering a question in Parliament on 27 March, MP for Winchester Steve Brine said: ‘Informal discussions have already begun with industry regarding future medicines pricing arrangements [beyond 2018].

‘Formal negotiations will begin during 2018.’

An ABPI spokesperson told the Pharmacist that the scheme should be announced towards the end of the year.

Keeping NHS spend ‘flat’

They added: ‘The current scheme has kept NHS spend on medicines covered by the scheme relatively flat at around 1% each year for five years. To achieve this, the pharmaceutical industry pays back over £2bn to the UK Government towards NHS funding.

‘The 2014 scheme ensured that NHS spend on the majority of innovative new medicines and vaccines was kept to agreed limits, whilst recognising the value of innovative products for patients, and providing certainty for UK pharmaceutical companies who develop new products.’

The PPRS is usually renewed every five years, with the current scheme running from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2018.

Payment increase

The scheme’s payment percentage for 2018 is 7.80% – a 3% increase compared to the previous year.

At the moment, 137 pharmaceutical companies have opted for the PPRS.

The DHSC and ABPI recently agreed on ensuring that branded medicines prices remain within affordable limits by revising a statutory pricing scheme from 1 April – which will result in £33m of savings in one year, they estimated.