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DH must explain new drug pricing policy, say MPs

The Department of Health must urgently clarify how the move to ‘value-based pricing’ next year will affect the availability of drugs for patients, say MPs.

A report from the House of Commons Health Select Committee criticises NICE for its delay in producing a useful definition of value-based pricing, and said the DH muse clarify what the change will mean for clinicians, the pharmaceutical industry and patients by March 2013.

The new drugs pricing system will be introduced from January 2014 and result in the £30,000 per quality-adjusted life year threshold that NICE currently uses for approving drugs being scrapped, with CCGs given the final say as to which drugs are offered to patients.

The Government opened a consultation on this issue in 2010, and so the Health Select Committee said it was unacceptable that the practicalities have not yet been clearly explained to stakeholders.

The committee’s report said: ‘We do not regard it as acceptable that the arrangements for value-based pricing have still not been settled and that
those who will have to work with those arrangements are still unclear about what value-based pricing will mean in practice.

It added: ‘Industry needs certainty about how it should bring its products to the NHS, and patient groups and clinicians need to understand what their role will be and how they can make their views heard.’

The DH should remove uncertainty over this by ‘no later than the end of March 2013’, they recommended.

NHS Confederation Chief Executive Mike Farrar said: ‘The committee is right to call on the Government to produce a clearer picture of how this new system will be implemented. We need strong evidence to show that changes to the system will deliver maximum benefit to patients, without creating significant additional costs for commissioners or taxpayers.’

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