Changes to the regulation of drug prices in the UK

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a2735 (Published 29 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2735
  1. Joe Collier, emeritus professor of medicines policy
  1. 1St George’s Medical School, London SW17 0RE
  1. jcollier{at}sgul.ac.uk

    Now the prices paid should reflect a medicine’s clinical value

    On 11 December 2008 the Department of Health and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry jointly published details of an agreement they had reached after nine months’ negotiation for the pricing of brand name drugs sold to the NHS.1 The new terms, which came into effect on 1 January 2009 and will run for five years, are the latest in a continually evolving Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme.

    Under the framework of this scheme, which was originally known as the Voluntary Price Regulation Scheme, government and industry have been negotiating “voluntary and non-contractual” terms for drug pricing since 1956, and the previous set of terms—which started in 2005—was due to run until 2010. However, in 2007 a market report from the Office of Fair Trading argued that the scheme was outdated, perverse, and not fit for purpose, and demanded that it be reformed.2 The government unilaterally withdrew from the 2005-10 scheme in February 2008 despite resistance from the drug industry.3 To what extent does the current scheme allay the Office of Fair Trading’s criticisms?

    Much has been reformed …

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