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NHS England’s Simon Stevens - no Trump drug price rhetoric here

Health service supremo will play major role in UK pricing talks


The UK pharmaceutical industry is beginning crucial talks with the government on the future of drug pricing for the next four years, and this time around NHS England is set to make it very much a three-way conversation.

NHS England has taken on responsibility for many aspects of price setting and market access for England’s NHS in the last few years, especially for the specialised and high-cost medicines which are now most frequently emerging from the industry’s pipelines.

Speaking at the annual conference of UK pharma association the ABPI yesterday, he reiterated that NHS England would enter into the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) negotiations in “good faith”, with the goal of seeking a “triple win” for the industry, NHS and patients.

Quizzed by conference chair veteran journalist Jonathan Dimbleby about disagreements over drug prices, Stevens played down the suggestion of an adversarial approach.

“Unlike the US President, I don’t think you’ll find the British Prime Minister accusing the pharmaceutical industry of getting away with murder.”

Pushed further by the grand inquisitor about whether companies charge too much, Stevens replied: “In the event of them asking too much, we simply don’t pay.”

In a moment of typical candour, Stevens referenced an ongoing disagreement between NHS England and Vertex, over pricing and market access for its cystic fibrosis treatment.

He made it clear that NHS England and the Department of Health believed Vertex’s price was too high, and that two Government minister had now informed the company that it had to “sharpen its pencil” and revise their offer on Orkambi.

Commenting on the negotiations a Vertex Pharmaceuticals spokesperson said: “We can confirm that NHS England and Vertex had a constructive meeting on Wednesday 25 April.

“Both parties recognise there is still some way to go to reach an agreement and Vertex is committed to working together to achieve this. We share the cystic fibrosis community’s sense of urgency and have agreed to meet again in the coming weeks. There’s lots of work to do on both sides ahead of this to progress discussions as quickly as possible.”

PPRS discussions are set to continue throughout 2018, and agreement must be reached by December for a new deal to come into place in January 2019.

Stevens also highlighted at the meeting the increasing number of bespoke pricing and market access deals being done between NHS England and the pharma industry, but reiterated his view that there remained a need for an overarching pricing agreement for the sector.

Sharing the stage with the NHS England leader was President of AstraZeneca UK and President of the ABPI, Lisa Anson, who said the PPRS needed to deliver a fair deal for the NHS and ‘rock solid’ certainty around pricing for the next four years for pharma.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

27th April 2018

From: Regulatory



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