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Don't cut new drug spending, ABPI warns, as UK lags behind Europe

Business The NHS is “stirring up problems for the future” by reducing the amount it spends on new medicines, ABPI chief executive Stephen Whitehead has warned.

The NHS is "stirring up problems for the future" by reducing the amount it spends on new medicines, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) chief executive Stephen Whitehead has warned.


The medicines bill was the "easiest and earliest" part of the NHS to be identified for cuts and this could hamper innovations in new treatments and technology, Mr Whitehead told delegates at the ABPI conference last week (April 25).


NHS spending on new medicines is set to fall in real terms in 2015, the ABPI said. The amount spent on new medicines would increase 1.3 per cent, compared with a 2.5 per cent rise in total NHS spending over the same period.


"We all know that the effective utilisation of medicines saves money and I believe these actions are stirring up problems for the future" Stephen Whitehead, ABPI

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Nice chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said the drop in spending was not a deliberate policy but based on a range of decisions the NHS had taken.


But Mr Whitehead said: "We all know that the effective utilisation of medicines saves money and I believe these actions are stirring up problems for the future."


The average amount spent on new medicines per member of the population per day in the UK was just seven pence, compared with 21 pence in Spain and Germany, he said.


"We discover and develop those medicines. It is really the burden on the NHS to make sure those medicines are absolutely delivered to patients in need," he added.


Instead of comparing the UK's spend on new medicines to other countries, Sir Andrew said the NHS needed to look at health outcomes in relation to specific dugs, but this was complicated because outcomes were often affected by other factors.


"It's not just about the drugs, it's about early diagnosis and all the things that need to happen in addition to good quality therapeutics that make the difference between poor outcomes and good outcomes," he told the conference.


Sir Andrew added that if Nice was not using a drug that it knew had good outcomes, then it was not doing its best for the people it was responsible for.


Earlier this year, the ABPI called on the government to act "quickly and decisively" to increase the use of new and innovative medicines in England, after NHS data showed wide variation in uptake between commissioning localities.

Amount spent per head of population per day (£)

Country


Medicines


New medicines

  UK   0.74   0.07
  Italy   0.99   0.14
  Spain   1.04   0.21
  Germany   1.11   0.21
  France   1.40   0.22
  Japan   1.70   0.30
  USA   2.21   0.36



Does the NHS need to increase spending on new medicines?

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