Reacting to the announcement today (Monday) by Health Minister, Malcolm Chisholm, on measures to ensure that health boards will implement Scottish Medicines Consortium recommendations on the use of new medicines no later than three months after the announcement, Jim Eadie, Director of ABPI Scotland said: "We welcome the strong commitment by the Scottish Executive to ensure that all patients in Scotland have the same access to new, effective treatments regardless of where they live.
"It is good news that the Health Minister has listened to and acted upon the clear concerns expressed by the public, patient groups and the pharmaceutical industry that the failure by health boards to implement positive recommendations is no longer acceptable.
"But systematic and rigorous monitoring of the implementation of SMC guidance to assess if patients are benefiting is essential. It is equally important that health boards put in place robust planning systems to absorb the cost of new medicines, which is a small proportion of the total NHS spend.
"In the long term, allowing patients access to the newest treatments will not only save lives and improve health it will also save the health service money."
Notes to Editors
ABPI Scotland is part of the pharmaceutical industry trade association representing around 100 of the researchers, developers and manufacturers of prescription medicines in the UK.
The remit of the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) is to provide advice to NHS Boards and their Area Drug and Therapeutic Committees (ADTCs) across Scotland about the status of all newly licensed medicines, all new formulations of existing medicines and any major new indications for established products.
In Scotland, NHS expenditure on new medicines (1-2 years old) is as low as 4% of the total NHS drugs budget, and as low as 0.6% of the total health budget. More than 60% of medicines cost the NHS less than the prescription charge (currently £6.20). (Sources: ABPI Briefing paper; The cost of medicines, IMS)
Uptake of new medicines in the UK, including Scotland, is actually low compared to other European countries. The NHS already spends a greater proportion of its money on older, generic medicines than most other countries in Europe.
The value of medicines in promoting good health and reducing the burden of ill health has been recognised in an Audit Scotland report Supporting Prescribing in General Practice, published on June 26, 2003, which states 'The quality of prescribing has a direct impact on the quality of patient care. Receiving the most appropriate medicines at the right time is important both for treating existing conditions and preventing ill health.'
Medicines are far cheaper than surgical or medical intervention, or indeed hospital stays - the average cost of a prescription to the NHS is £9.50 compared to a week's stay in hospital of around £1,400
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410