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Pfizer slams UK drug pricing plan

BioIndustry Association 
also challenges revision to PPRS

Pfizer headquartersPfizer has come out as one of the leading critics to the UK's revised drug pricing scheme, claiming there is a “growing disconnect” between the government's ambitions and its actions.

The Department of Health (DH) yesterday announced changes to the current Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS), which included a price freeze on NHS drug spend in England for two years and an effective decrease on the cost-effectiveness threshold to recommend new drugs.

Pfizer, which has cutback its UK operations in recent years with the closure of a major research facility in Kent, described the deal agreed between the DH and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) as a “missed opportunity for British patients, the UK economy and industry”.

The major pressing point for the company was its view that the government was more focused on managing growing NHS costs rather than valuing the long-term benefits of medicine innovation.

The company said UK pharma has already faced £4bn worth of NHS price cuts over the last 10 years, and sought to tie-in to this argument the further savings that are due to come as prices of major drugs, such as its own cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, come down due to generic competition.

Pfizer also restated previous criticism of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which assesses the value of drugs for NHS use.

The company noted that the body has recommended less than a third of medicines it has assessed in line with their EU licences since 2005, with notable, recent rejections for Pfizer including its cancer drugs Xalkori (crizotinib) and Bosulif (bosutinib).

NICE's remit remained relatively unscathed in the new PPRS, despite clear signals from the government that the country would be overhauling the drug pricing process to a value-based pricing (VBP) system. Instead, companies have the option to request a value-based appraisal of a treatment, though a wider scheme for this won't be introduced until autumn 2014, after public consultation.

This was not enough for Jonathan Emms, Pfizer's UK managing director, who said: “NICE must be given a new mandate, one that makes it a beacon for innovation, helping to deliver the Government's ambitions and benefitting patients, the NHS and the UK economy."

Biotech critical of 'austerity price cap'

Other critics of the revised PPRS included the UK's BioIndustry Association
 (BIA), which represents the biotech industry.

The BIA claimed the changes could damage future investment and also took issue with the Governments' failure to respond to plans proposed by the BIA to encourage innovation, including its BIA Citizens' Innovation Fund.

The BIA's CEO Steve Bates said: "The austerity price cap for the whole branded medicines bill is a big change from previous PPRS deals and I fear this agreement will have a negative impact on industry investment here which is contrary to the government's stated industrial and life science strategies."

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt defended the new PPRS, which is to last five years until further negotiations.

“This agreement ensures NHS patients will receive the best and most advanced medicines in the world while managing the cost,” he said.

“UK pharmaceutical companies have responded to the challenges we face as a country, both in terms of the increased demand for medicines and pressure on public spending. I hope in return we have given them the certainty and backing they need to flourish as a sector both here and in the global market.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

7th November 2013

From: Sales, Regulatory, Healthcare

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