A new deal with the pharmaceutical industry will enable patients to access new drugs up to six months earlier, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

Following discussions with the industry’s representative body the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the DHSC announced today (23 November) a new voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing and access from January 2019 to 2023.

In the UK, branded medicine costs are determined either by a voluntary scheme that manufacturers can opt into, the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS), which is an agreement between the DHSC and the ABPI – or a statutory framework for companies that have not joined the PPRS.


Faster access to new medicines


The DHSC said that faster appraisals from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will allow patients to access new, ‘ground-breaking’ medicines up to six months earlier.

NHS England will also play a more proactive role in supporting and funding the implementation of new cost-medicines recommended for patients through better commercial flexibilities with the companies offering the best-value medicines.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘This new deal will be good for patients, good for the NHS and good for the UK life sciences industry. 

‘The deal will also ensure the UK remains an attractive hub for research and investment so the next generation of ground-breaking treatments can be developed here with patients benefitting earlier.’


Keeping the drug bill affordable


The DHSC is expecting that the scheme will generate almost £930m in NHS savings in 2019, which will in turn be invested back in health services.

ABPI chief executive Mike Thompson said that the deal is a ‘significant contribution by pharmaceutical companies to support the NHS.’

He added: ‘This agreement is a commitment by the Government and the NHS to work with us to support innovation for the benefit of patients.

‘Under the scheme, the NHS will have absolute certainty that the sales of branded medicines will not grow by more than 2% in any of the next five years – or industry refunds the money.’

The two organisations said that the negotiations towards a full agreement are on-going and will be published ‘in due course’.