02 Jul 2012
NHS spending on new drugs is set to fall over the next three years, according to research commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).
The research comes as the pharma industry prepares to negotiate the next medicines pricing scheme with the government.
While NHS spending on medicines is "well under control", expenditure on some of the most advanced branded medicines is actually set to shrink in real terms, according to projections by the Office of Health Economics.
The ABPI said it was concerned that spending on innovative medicines is to fall and the "slow speed" at which patients in the UK can access new treatments in comparison with the rest of Europe.
The research found although the total amount spent on the NHS is set to rise by 2.5 per cent each year through to 2015, spending on new branded medicines is to rise by just 1.3 per cent annually.
There will be a "very slight" increase in the growth of the total amount spent on medicines each year from 3.5 per cent to 3.7 per cent up to 2015, fuelled by an increase in the proportion spent on generic drugs.
It is also suggested that medicines launched between 2012 and 2015 will represent less than two per cent of total medicine spend.
Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the ABPI, said brand drug prices in the UK were already among the lowest in Europe and that the UK spent less than one per cent of GDP on drugs — almost half the average for major pharmaceutical markets.
"But I am deeply concerned that these savings are not being reinvested back into the system because these figures show our spending on the newest and most advanced medicines is declining in real terms," he said.
"This spells bad news for the discovery of new life saving medicines and ultimately the health and well-being of UK patients.
"We have to stop thinking of medicines as a cost and see them for what they are – an investment. An investment in the future of medical research, an investment that reduces expensive hospital stays and unnecessary visits to GPs, an investment in the UK economy and—most importantly—an investment in people's health."