UK plans to cut drug prices by up to 20%

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The UK’s Department of Health (DoH) has launched a consultation to strengthen the statutory pharmaceutical pricing scheme, which covers the prices the National Health Service (NHS) pays for brand-name drugs not covered by the voluntary Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS). The consultation is seeking views on a price cut on drug prices of between 10% and 20% to ensure the NHS continues to get good value for money.

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The statutory scheme will apply to the 10% of brand-name medicines used in the UK which are not covered by PPRS and are part of government plans to save GBP 11.5 billion in the 2015–16 spending year.

The UK’s NHS already gets good value for money via the voluntary pricing agreement between DoH and the pharmaceutical industry for medicines that are part of PPRS [1], but it wants to ensure that medicines that fall outside of this scheme are also providing good value for money.

Health Minister Lord Howe wants ‘to make sure we get the best possible outcomes for all NHS patients with the resources we have. He added that ‘we cannot simply spend more and more on drugs’ as this would result in spending cuts having to be made elsewhere in the UK’s health service.

The announcement from DoH came in the wake of news that some pharmaceutical firms appear to have inflated prices for prescription drugs not covered by PPRS. Pharma firms have allegedly invoiced chemists for drugs at up to double their actual cost, with chemists then sending inflated invoices to the NHS, and pocketing the difference. The news has been described as ‘deeply concerning’ by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and highlights the need for control of prices for drugs that fall outside of PPRS.


1.  GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. UK gets value for money for its medicines []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2013 Jul 5]. Available from:

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Source: ABPI, DoH, The Telegraph

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