OFT calls for NHS drugs buying reforms

In collaboration with the Press Association

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has called for reform of the way in which the NHS negotiates the price of drugs after ruling that it is currently paying too much.

The Department of Health spends £ 8 billion on branded medicines every year, but the OFT said that it is not getting the best prices for drugs and has recommended that the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme, which is used to set prices, be overhauled.

The OFT analysis of drug pricing identified a number of medicines where it said 'prices were significantly out of line with patient benefit'.

The report concludes that a value based pricing system would allow patients greater access to drugs and other healthcare benefits that they are currently being denied.

Value-reflective prices would also give companies much stronger incentives to invest in the drugs for those medical conditions where there is the greatest need.

Professor John Toy, Cancer Research UK's medical director, said: "This report tackles two crucial issues for improving outcomes for cancer patients - obtaining best value for NHS spend on medicines, and maintaining the incentives for the UK pharmaceutical industry to invest in developing the new and better medicines patients still need.

"As our understanding of cancer increases we can expect new treatments will be discovered, greatly expanding the options available for patients. It is essential that the NHS is in a position to afford the best treatments now and in the future.

"We will consider the report's recommendations carefully over the coming weeks and then send our views to the Departments of Health and Trade & Industry."