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ABPI says top-ups are unnecessary

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has said that lack of money in the NHS pot is not the reason for patients being denied new medicines

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has said that lack of money in the NHS pot is not the reason for patients being denied new medicines.

Government figures show that in 2007, medicines accounted for only 9.9 per cent of the NHS budget. Spending per head on medicines in the UK is far lower than in many other European countries; France spent £322 per head on medicines in 2007 compared with £195 per head in the UK.

With seven of the top 20 medicines in the UK going off patent in the next four years, the ABPI predicts that by 2012 the Department of Health (DH) will save £2.9bn – more than a quarter of the NHS' annual medicines bill.

The ABPI's analysis shows that these savings would go a long way to covering the cost of providing new drugs on the NHS to those patients who need them.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recently rejected four kidney cancer medicines. Their combined annual cost would be less than 1 per cent of the £2.9bn saved by the NHS and would benefit 4,000 people.

The association believes that the way NICE decides on which drugs can be used on the NHS needs to be reviewed. If patients are to be given access to the best medicines, then flexibility will be needed from both the pharmaceutical industry and the regulatory body.

28th October 2008

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