Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 17 March 2023.

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Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of the rebate rates under the (a) voluntary and (b) statutory scheme for branded medicines on (i) the placement of clinical trials in the UK, (ii) the prioritisation of the UK as a launch market for new medicines and (iii) patient outcomes in the next five years.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Government has assessed the link between volume-based rebate payments in our medicine pricing schemes and various kinds of investment in our impact assessment of recent updates to the statutory scheme for branded medicines pricing, which operates alongside the voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing and access (VPAS).

The Government’s 2023 impact assessment of updates to the statutory scheme is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-update-to-the-2023-statutory-scheme-to-control-the-costs-of-branded-health-service-medicines

The Government is working to better understand the impacts the operation of the current VPAS on the United Kingdom life sciences industry. We are in direct conversations with pharmaceutical companies, including in the recent pre-negotiation workshops, as well as the Department for Science Innovation and Technology, and the Department for Business and Trade about the business environment for life sciences.

Controlling medicine spend is a key aim for both current and future schemes to improve patient outcomes by simplifying, streamlining and improving access, pricing, and uptake arrangements for cost effective medicines, and deliver faster adoption of the most clinically and cost-effective medicines.

With regard to the impact of price regulation on the placement of clinical trials in the UK and access to new medicines, the Government’s assessment is that price control schemes in general are more likely to impact decisions about the location of late-stage than early-stage trials, as the location of late-stage trials may be more influenced by commercial considerations about where to launch a new medicine. However, VPAS includes strong commercial incentives to launch new products in the form of freedom of list pricing and exemptions from payments for innovative medicines containing a new active substance. These incentives have contributed to VPAS driving significant improvements in patient access to clinically and cost-effective medicines, whilst ensuring sustainable and predictable spend growth for the National Health Service and industry during a period of economic uncertainty.

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