Thank you for contacting me about the cost of pharmaceutical drugs to the NHS.I fully appreciate your concerns and I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to paying a fair price for drugs.
With all my involvement with healthcare issues, I understand that new drugs are often very expensive when first release on to the market, in order to cover all the associated research and development costs.
However, it is unacceptable if some less principled drug companies have been overcharging the NHS. In order to clarify the situation, the Secretary of State for Health has asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to urgently look into whether pharmaceutical companies are exploiting the NHS by increasing their prices. I understand from ministerial colleagues that the CMA is currently carrying out five investigations related to suspected anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. The CMA has the ability to impose tough financial penalties on a company that is found to have charged excessive prices.
The Government has worked closely with the industry on a range of issues, including the pricings of new medicines, through mechanisms such as the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme. This scheme is a voluntary agreement between the Government and pharmaceutical industry which controls the costs of branded medicines sold to the NHS. Through measures such as this, the Government is taking action to ensure drugs represent value for money to the NHS and the UK taxpayer.
I am keen to see the Government have a more coherent policy on drug uptake for new drugs, pricing, licensing and so forth. I welcome the Accelerated Access Review but would like to see real understanding brought to this area of the NHS. Unethical behaviour should not be accepted but neither will patients be assisted by non-engagement with the pharmaceutical industry.
I am aware that the Government is currently in discussions with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry about how best to ensure appropriate pricing throughout the system, and I will follow any developments with interest.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.