The latest forecast by the Office of Health Economics (OHE) for the ABPI has found that total expenditure on medicines in England in the NHS is firmly under control whilst spending on the newest innovative medicines is actually falling as a proportion of the healthcare budget.


The findings follow analysis conducted earlier in the year by OHE which forecast spending on medicines in the UK as a whole.

In response to the findings, Stephen Whitehead, the leader of the research based pharmaceutical industry in the UK, said he is concerned that with the NHS spending less and less on the newest branded medicines we risk falling further behind Europe on patient healthcare outcomes.

The figures for England show that spending on the newest and most innovative branded medicines will rise by just 1.2 per cent annually over the next three years, which represents an actual decrease in real terms as total NHS spending is set to rise by approximately 2.5 per cent a year until 2015.1 For spending on all medicines, growth remains flat at 3.6 per cent – the same as the period for 2009-11 which was also 3.6 per cent.

The report also reveals that the NHS in England is actually projected to save £2.8bn from 2012 to 2015 as many medicines lose their patent exclusivity and can be prescribed much more cheaply as generics.

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

"The latest research from the Office of Health Economics again confirms that spending on medicines is flat. Coupled with last week’s news that UK prices are amongst the lowest in Europe, it is abundantly clear that the NHS is getting a good deal from the pharmaceutical industry. 

"But the balance must be right, and I am concerned the NHS is spending less and less on the newest branded medicines. The NHS has the scope to invest in newer medicines because they are saving billions on medicines as treatments lose their patents. It is these new, advanced medicines which can often have the greatest impact on treating disease and which we need to ensure reach patients to bring us closer in to line with Europe on health outcomes.

"It is important we see medicines for what they are, not simply a cost, but an investment. An investment not only in the health of patients, but also an investment that reduces expensive hospital care, promotes medical research and spurs growth in the UK economy."

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

Notes to editors

  1. Rachael Harker, NHS funding and expenditure, Social and General Statistics, House of Commons Library, 14 September 2011
  2. Forecasts are available for the other home nations on request.
  3. 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.
  4. The Office of Health Economics (OHE) provides authoritative resources, research and analyses in health economics, health policy and health statistics both through independent research and consultancy. OHE’s work informs decision making about health care and pharmaceutical issues at the UK, regional and international levels.
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