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UK BioIndustry Association knocks government's statutory drug pricing proposals


The UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) has criticised the government's recent statutory pricing proposals, claiming they "put at risk future investment in the UK biotech base" in a statement.

The proposals, which apply to drugs not covered under the UK's 'voluntary' PPRS system, were under consultation from June 20 to July 31, but the government has yet to release a final document regarding the proposed revisions. (APMHE 34576)

However, in an email to APM on Friday, Steve Bates, CEO of the BIA, said the suggested price cuts of up to 20% for branded NHS medicines undermine government investments in other areas of life sciences such as setting up the Biomedical Catalyst, which has been very successful in supporting innovative medical research in the UK.

"The government has taken a number of specific actions outlined in its Strategy for UK Life Sciences which articulate a long-term vision for the sector," said Bates.

It must be recognised that "a holistic approach is required to encouraging the life sciences sector in the UK. A focus in one area cannot achieve positive results if it is undermined at the other end of the pipeline," he added.

The BIA argues the pricing proposals will put off investors in UK biotech at all stages of drug development.

"The perception of the UK as a market for innovative products has an important bearing not only on the global investment decisions of multinational biopharmaceutical companies but also upon private investment to support early stage bioscience companies," said Bates.

According to the BIA, the UK is currently seen as having a virtuous circle of investment for launching new drugs, in that having a high number of drug launches has led to more clinical trials and expertise being located here.

"However if the pricing environment makes the UK unattractive, as the statutory pricing proposals do, this may well stop," said Bates.

"A virtuous circle may become a vicious circle where disinvestment in launch is followed by disinvestment in clinical development and NHS engagement. This would prejudice the UK's position as a place to do biomedical research."

The statutory pricing scheme only affects around 10% of all drugs in the UK, but the BIA says it will be considered a starting point for ongoing negotiations regarding the proposed PPRS (pharmaceutical price regulation scheme) and value-based pricing schemes that will influence pricing and investment in a much larger proportion of drugs.

"This leaves the impression that the government considers the budget for innovative medicines an 'easy target' without giving due regard to the negative effects this would have on medical research in the UK, the UK life science sector and patient access to treatments," said Bates.

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