What did the 11th Report to Parliament on the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) find? ABPI CEO Stephen Whitehead explores the issues.


Today, the Department of Health (DH), published its 11th Report to Parliament on the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS). 

The PPRS is the voluntary agreement between DH and the pharmaceutical industry which sets the prices of medicines in the UK. And this report, which has been published more or less every year, assesses how the agreement is serving the Government and the industry the ABPI represent.

So what did the report find? As we expected, there was confirmation that the UK has the lowest medicine prices compared with a wide range of developed countries, both inside and outside of Europe. Even when average exchange rates over the last five-year period are taken into account we are still in the bottom third. 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. In short, the current PPRS is providing good value for money to the NHS.

But what are companies looking for from the PPRS? There are two things as I see it. Firstly, fair and reasonable prices for medicines is absolutely essential for the development of new innovative treatments to address unmet clinical need. 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.

Secondly, we need to have an agreement between government and industry that addresses patient access to medicines, because at the moment, we lag behind our European counterparts. 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. This is simply not good enough. We need to get it right on both of these points, if we do, our industry, the NHS and most importantly patients, will realise the benefits in the years to come.

Stephen Whitehead
ABPI Chief Executive

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