Intended for healthcare professionals


The Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 01 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:435
  1. Joe Collier, professor of medicines policy
  1. St George's, University of London, London SW17 0RE
  1. jcollier{at}

    Proposals for a new drug pricing mechanism in the NHS are welcomed

    Early last week, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) published its report on the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme,1 a uniquely British mechanism for determining the prices the National Health Service pays for brand name drugs (currently costing around £8bn (€12bn; $15.6bn) a year). For 18 months the enquiry team had analysed the scheme, heard evidence, looked at arrangements in other countries, and modelled alternatives in an NHS context. Early on Tuesday 20 February it delivered its verdict: the scheme was no longer fit for purpose and needed to change.

    The Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (formerly the Voluntary Price Regulation Scheme) has been running since 1956. It is a voluntary arrangement between the Department of Health and individual drug companies, which determines the prices companies can charge the NHS for their drugs.2 The scheme has helped keep drug companies based in the United Kingdom in good stead since its inception.

    The question that now arises is to what extent the scheme serves the purposes of industry rather than the interests of patients. This …

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