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UK drug pricing must reward 'small steps' in innovation says ABPI

CEO Stephen Whitehead says pricing proposals focus too much on 'breakthroughs'

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has called for the UK's future pricing system to reflect incremental medical innovation rather than prizing headline medical advances above all else.

CEO Stephen Whitehead: “The Government wants to target resources at big breakthroughs, but the science shows us that developments in medicine are made in small steps.

“We have to make sure that we recognise and reward the investment that goes into creating innovative new medicines,” he added.

The UK is to due to get a new pricing system in 2014, but a great deal of uncertainty still surrounds its exact shape.

The ABPI told PMLiVE that while negotiations with government could begin in September they still don't have an exact date for the talks, which will cover both value based pricing (VBP) and a more general scheme.

When the two sides do sit down the industry association expects VBP to take a back seat to the new general pricing scheme, which it said will be “a PPRS-type scheme” and cover around 95 per cent of medicines.

“The pricing negotiations will decide the future of pharmaceutical research in the UK. If we minimise the reward for innovation in the UK, then our manufacturers will go abroad. Our industry, our economy, and our healthcare system will suffer – UK patients will suffer,” said Whitehead.

To date the focus has been on the anticipated introduction of VBP, which is likely to allow companies to sell drugs at higher prices based on a series of cost-effectiveness thresholds, with major advances in areas of unmet medical need more likely to be favoured.

However, many in the industry are worried that the changes would create a system that does not offer sufficient reward for more incremental drug developments. Whitehead said that if such a system was introduced as proposed in January 2014, he would “fear for the future of UK medical research”.

It's a feeling that's been felt beyond the UK too, with the likes of Boehringer Ingelheim criticising Germany's decision to introduce its AMNOG value based pricing scheme at the beginning of 2011.

To back its stance, the ABPI has compiled a new report, The Many Faces of Innovation, which concludes: “Innovation is not simply there or not; rather it is a matter of degree and can be present in any one or more of numerous different dimensions.”

7th June 2012

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