Innovating medicines funding in Scotland

Scotland receives superb value from the latest medicines and vaccines thanks to robust measures which ensure NHS Scotland uses treatments that are both cost and clinically effective.

Voluntary Scheme Scotland

Medicine spend is under control in Scotland

Companies can’t just pick a price for a medicine and there are controls in place to give NHS Scotland predictability on its medicines budget.

The Voluntary Pricing and Access Scheme, or ‘VPAS’, is a five-year agreement between the pharmaceutical industry, the Government and the NHS which controls spending on new medicine.

How does medicine pricing work in Scotland?

It works by making sure the branded medicines bill will not grow by more than 2% in any of the next 5 years, with anything over this rebated to the Scottish Government. 

Pharmaceutical companies have already given over £250 million to the NHS through a ring-fenced fund via the Scottish Government.

The voluntary agreement works alongside the Scottish Medicines Consortium. The SMC advises NHS Scotland on whether a new medicine is cost effective and does this by comparing it with medicines already being used and the likely number of patients set to benefit.  

We want to make sure that patients of Scotland can access the latest new medicines, and to do this, the pharmaceutical industry has come to an arrangement with the government, where there's a cap, on what the NHS spends on new medicines.


Anything over and above that cap, the pharmaceutical industry, gives back to the NHS.


Now this is an area that I think we excel in, because I'm not aware of any other area in healthcare, which gives the NHS such surety over its budget.

Rectangle Medicine Priced Purple

Companies can't just price a price for a medicine

If the new treatment is deemed to be too expensive, compared with the benefits it brings, it is not recommended for use.

When pricing a medicine, companies need to take into account the costs of research and development – not just for the successful medicine but also for the many which have failed.

What is the value of the pharmaceutical industry to Scotland?

We want to ensure patients in Scotland continue to access the latest new medicines. It is not only about protecting the checks and balances in place today, but making sure Scotland is ready for the future.

Making the most of healthcare care data can improve clinician and patient decision making, reduce waste and ensure that new medicines make their way to patients faster.

We are proud to be delivering for the health and for the economy of Scotland.


The pharmaceutical industry delivers £2.7 billion into the Scottish economy. That equates to 5,000 jobs, which go on to support thousands more in the communities the length and breadth of Scotland.


The success of life sciences of Scotland is dependent upon us working together. Now that is industry, academia, the government and enterprise.


If we all come together, we will basically make life sciences fit for the future and Scotland.

Industry Value Scotland

We’re proud to be delivering for the health and economy of Scotland. The pharmaceutical industry delivers £2.7 billion of GVA to the Scottish economy, supporting 5,000 jobs directly and thousands more in the supply chain across the whole country.

Last modified: 16 May 2024

Last reviewed: 16 May 2024