• Press Office

    Posted in category News Release by Press Office on 23/02/2012

    Department of Health report shows UK medicines are good value for money

A report published today by the Department of Health (DH) endorses the current voluntary agreement between the DH and the pharmaceutical industry and confirms that UK medicines are representing good value for money for the NHS.


The 11th Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) Report to Parliament assesses the ongoing voluntary pricing agreement between the DH and the pharmaceutical industry. It found that the UK has the lowest medicine prices compared with a wide range of developed countries, both inside and outside of Europe, and is in the bottom third even when average exchange rates over the last five-year period are taken into account.1  

The report recognises the importance of providing medicines at a reasonable cost to the NHS whilst providing fair and balanced prices that reward pharmaceutical innovation, take into account the high costs of research and development, and increases patient access to and use of, innovative new medicines.

There was also acknowledgement of the high use of cheaper, off-patent medicines, with over 80 per cent of medicines in primary care prescribed generically.2 This equates to amongst the highest rates of generic prescribing in the whole of Europe as well as some of the lowest prices. This is significant because the NHS should be able to afford more innovative new medicines based on the savings made on generic medicines. Past analysis has shown that between 2009 and 2014 the NHS will save over £3bn as patents expire and many companies lose their exclusive rights to market specific branded medicines.3  

Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, said:

“We need to start thinking about medicines as an investment, not just a cost – their use actually saves the NHS money, by remodelling patient pathways, improving outcomes, and releasing NHS capacity by reducing hospital admissions. The production and sale of our medicines also promote UK economic growth but fundamentally their greatest value is in improving and saving the lives of patients at home and overseas.

“Striking the balance between delivering value for money for the NHS and fair and reasonable prices for pharmaceutical companies is absolutely essential for the development of new innovative medicines.  Without appropriate reward, companies would be unable to undertake the huge risks required to take a medicine to market which on average costs over £1bn and 12–15 years to develop.4

“Despite the report demonstrating that the UK has particularly low prices, patients are still struggling to access medicines as easily or as quickly as our European counterparts. In fact, ABPI analysis shows that the use of new cancer medicines in the UK is 33 per cent lower here than in the rest of Europe.5 Patient Access Schemes have helped to improve this situation but further progress is needed in this area.

 “We appreciate the recognition given in the report to the importance of the pharmaceutical industry in driving economic growth in the UK.  Government initiatives to help industry are valuable but it is essential that if further progress is to be made, the uptake of new innovative medicines is supported further and the importance of the pricing environment is fully understood."

  1. PPRS Report to Parliament (2012)
  2. PPRS Report to Parliament (2012)
  3. ABPI ‘Key facts on the cost of medicines (2011)’
  4. ABPI ‘Did you know? Facts and figures about the pharmaceutical industry in the UK (2011)’
  5. ABPI ‘Key facts on the cost of medicines (2011)’


Media enquiries

ABPI Press Office
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7747 1410 or +44 (0) 20 7747 1441
Mobile: +44 (0) 7850 312064 or +44 (0) 7808 641811 
Email: pressoffice@abpi.org.uk  


Notes to editors

  1. The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK.

    Our industry, a major contributor to the economy of the UK, brings life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients. Our members supply 90 per cent of all medicines used by the NHS, and are researching and developing over two-thirds of the current medicines pipeline, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of helping patients prevent and overcome diseases.

     The ABPI is recognised by government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry, for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK. 

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