Two new reports published this week have found that medicine prices in the UK are firmly under control. The first, published today by OHE Consulting for the ABPI, has shown that UK branded medicine prices continue to be amongst the lowest of developed nations.


The report, International Comparisons of Medicine Prices: 2011, compared the prices of medicines in 13 different countries in 2011, using the most up-to-date data and employing the same methods as past DH analysis of global medicines prices.1 Even after smoothing out exchange rates for year-by-year volatility, the UK was still found to be in the bottom third of prices.

Another report published this week, the Department of Health annual report and accounts for 2011 to 2012, has found that the cost of prescribing medicines fell by 0.4 per cent in the last year to £8.3 billion, whilst the volume of medicines actually increased by 3.9 per cent. This demonstrates the value the Department of Health is getting from medicines even as the cost of primary healthcare rose 1.2 per cent.

Commenting, Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, said:

“It is clear from these latest reports that medicine prices in the UK are still low and firmly under control.  I am pleased we are still delivering value for money to taxpayers, but it is essential we strike the right balance between a good deal for the NHS and reasonable prices for pharmaceutical companies to research and develop the medicines of tomorrow. This is all the more important given the considerable risks and resources companies invest in new treatments – typically it costs over £1 billion and over 12 years to bring a medicine to market.

“Whilst the OHE Consulting report demonstrates our prices are amongst the lowest in Europe, it is important we recognise how much the pharmaceutical industry brings to the UK. First and foremost, we develop life-changing and life-saving medicines which have transformed countless lives whilst reducing the costly burden of hospital care in the UK. Secondly, our industry generates thousands of high end jobs and adds billions of pounds to the UK economy every year.

“But despite the clear health and economic benefits our medicines bring, they are not always reaching UK patients. So whilst our prices are amongst the lowest in Europe and beyond, uptake of medicines for patients is amongst the worst. This can’t continue as it is damaging patient health and making the UK less attractive as a place to invest in research and development; and launch new medicines.”

Media enquiries

ABPI Press Office

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7747 1410 or +44 (0) 20 7747 1441
Mobile: +44 (0) 7808 641810 or +44 (0) 7850 312064

Notes to editors

  1. As reported in the PPRS Reports to Parliament – the latest is from 2012

  2. 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. 

  3. Founded in 2002, OHE Consulting provides client-focused, specialised expertise on a range of health care issues and topics. OHE Consulting is dedicated to providing objective, independent advice to help our clients achieve their objectives.

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