VBP set for go ahead

The Government will press ahead with its plans to switch to a value-based pricing system, following a consultation exercise.

Relevant stakeholders overwhelmingly backed a move away from the existing pharmaceutical price regulation scheme (PPRS).

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley says a value-based pricing system will achieve the best health outcomes for patients.

The DH currently uses the PPRS to judge the cost of medicines. The existing contract expires in 2013 when the new system is expected to come into effect.

The consultation paper, A new value-based approach to the pricing of branded medicines, proposes the introduction of weightings to the benefits provided by new medicines. The weightings imply a range of thresholds which reflect the maximum the Government is prepared to pay for medicines.

There are four thresholds outlined in the consultation paper. These include:

  • a basic cost-effectiveness threshold;
  • a higher threshold for medicines that tackle diseases where there is greater “burden of illness”;
  • a higher threshold for medicines that can demonstrate greater therapeutic innovation and improvements compared with other products;
  • a higher threshold for medicines that can demonstrate wider societal benefits.

The ABPI says it supports the Government’s “ambition to improve patient access to effective medicines”.

However, the Association has a number of concerns it would like addressed before the new method is introduced.

“There is much work to be done on the new pricing and reimbursement system and many questions to be answered,” said ABPI CEO Stephen Whitehead. “The goal is to achieve a scheme under which patients have the best possible health outcomes. This will be achieved by a system that both ensures access to new and innovative medicines and creates the best environment for the research-based pharmaceutical industry in the UK to develop them.

“The ABPI is confident that we can establish a productive working framework to take us through to the next steps and welcomes the open approach of the Department of Health in progressing this.”

The British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), also backed the principles of the value-based pricing but also warned the “devil will be in the detail”. Warwick Smith, Director-General, BGMA, said: “It is crucial that the vital role of the generic industry in making medicines affordable is not undermined in any way.”