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Drugs industry sits down with Government to discuss VPAS successor

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Drugs industry sits down with Government to discuss VPAS successor

Negotiations between the pharmaceutical industry, Government and NHS England around a new branded medicines pricing scheme began yesterday (May 4).

The medicines industry was represented by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) at the initial meeting to discuss a successor to the voluntary scheme for branded medicines, pricing and access (VPAS).

A joint statement issued yesterday said that in the first meeting the aim would be to “agree to a shared negotiation aim of working toward a mutually beneficial agreement that supports better outcomes and a healthier population, a financially sustainable NHS and UK economic growth”.

Key criteria for any new voluntary scheme include: streamlining approvals in order to “reward innovation” and speed up access to new medicines; tackling “unwarranted variation” in patients’ access to approved medicines across the UK; supporting economic growth via the UK life sciences industry; and keeping branded medicines “affordable for the NHS”. 

The talks begin two months after the Government confirmed it would go ahead with a controversial VPAS rate hike from April, increasing the clawback rate payable by manufacturers from 24.4 per cent to 27.5 per cent. The VPAS scheme is due to expire at the end of this year.

The British Generic Manufacturers Association recently launched a judicial review challenging the decision not to allow it to “participate fully” in the current negotiations, having only been offered “observer status”.

Health minister Will Quince said: “These negotiations will ensure a new scheme continues to deliver value for money by providing significant savings for our health services, securing access to innovative lifesaving drugs for NHS patients, and helping to reduce waiting times – one of the Prime Minister’s 5 priorities.

“The current voluntary scheme supports investment in NHS services and saves billions of pounds for the NHS, while also promoting innovations and a successful life sciences sector.”

“It’s vitally important that the successor to the current scheme delivers for the taxpayer, patients, the NHS, and life sciences.

ABPPI chief executive Richard Torbett said: “These negotiations provide an opportunity to secure the UK’s place as a global leader in life science research and medical innovation while also ensuring the best outcomes for UK patients and a thriving economy.

“Working together, we can boost UK science and create the conditions for innovative medicines to deliver their true value as an investment in the nation’s health, wealth, and productivity.”

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