"But the challenge of tackling many life-threatening and debilitating illnesses continues to grow as the cost of research increases to £500million per new medicine," says the ABPI report. "Only a small proportion of new medicines - three in 10 - go on to return more than their costs of development. It remains vital to ensure that the UK continues to foster an environment that encourages such investment and results in major benefits for patients, the NHS and the economy."
In real terms the price of medicines are now 12 per cent lower than 10 years ago. The PPRS caps the profits that pharmaceutical companies can make on sales of branded prescription medicines to the NHS but offers no guaranteed profit level. The current PPRS runs until at least September 2004, and the DoH is undertaking a public consultation exercise on its future format.
The ABPI's submission illustrates how pharmaceutical costs remain a smaller proportion of health costs in the UK than in most other European countries and predicts that over the next three years patent expiries on 20 per cent of brand medicines worth over £1.5 billion a year will lead to significant savings in NHS medicine costs as generic copies enter the market. "As a result the rate of growth in the medicines bill for the NHS is falling and will continue to fall over the next six years," say the ABPI response.
It also identifies how greater prescribing of modern medicines has shown to be beneficial in helping Government to meet its key targets for improving health care in areas such as coronary heart disease, where mortality rates over the past 10 years have fallen by more than 40 per cent.
"In recent years we have entered into a period of unprecedented partnership working between industry and Government. Any future PPRS should balance the need for NHS prudence with the industry's future success in developing new medicines and the UK's science base, and encouraging local and inward investment to the UK by pharmaceutical companies," said Dr John Patterson, President of the ABPI.
"The challenge ahead will be to ensure that Government continues to purchase medicines at a reasonable cost as well as offering industry a fair return to invest in further medical advance and thereby improve health care standards for NHS patients," said Dr Patterson.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410