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Government accused of blocking patients from drug pricing talks

Coalition of cancer charities calls for a central role in pricing negotiations

A coalition of cancer charities, led by Prostate Cancer UK, has accused the government of “shutting patients out of crucial talks” about the shift to value-based pricing for new drugs.

Ignoring the views of patients, the charities have warned ministers, risks undermining the credibility and effectiveness of the new system before it is even established.

The current system of pricing is shifting to one where drugs are priced according to the value they provide to patients and society (value-based pricing), with new rules due to come into effect in 2014.

But the charity coalition said that discussions on the new system are taking place between the government and the pharma industry, without representation from patients.

Prostate Cancer UK, along with other UK cancer charities, has recently published their own research into cancer patients' opinions. The Value-based pricing: getting it right for people with cancer report states that value-based pricing will only be supported if it improves access to vital drugs.

Owen Sharp, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said: “NHS patients throughout the UK rightly expect to be amongst the first in the world to access the best, most innovative treatments for their condition. But, as we know all too well, this is not always the case.

“Whilst we welcome efforts to move away from the current unwieldy process of pricing drugs, it is clear that a new system, which better reflects the value medicines bring to patients, cannot be achieved if patients are not included in the process.

“We know that men and women affected by cancer have the experience, the knowledge and above all the desire to help develop a better system. Today patients are demanding the opportunity to do so. We stand full-square behind them and urge the government to ensure their voice is heard.”

Key demands in the report include:

  • Ensuring pricing reform leads to significant improvements in access to medicines
  • Introducing a better way to involve people affected by cancer in the drug appraisal process
  • Viewing drugs which improve people's quality of life as having the greatest value, with reductions in pain and fatigue a high priority
  • Attaching a higher value to drugs that give people nearing the end of their lives extra time

The report also notes that people affected by cancer are concerned about proposals to give a higher value to drugs aimed at helping people back to work. It says this poses a risk that many people affected by cancer will ultimately lose out, because they will have already retired or are too unwell to return to work.

14th November 2012

From: Marketing, Healthcare

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