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Access to branded medicines boosted by new drugs deal, says Hunt

GP access to branded medicines will improve under the latest drug price deal struck with the pharmaceutical industry, claims the health secretary.

Jeremy Hunt said the new five-year Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) will help the NHS in ‘managing the cost’ of newer medicines and help the UK pharmaceutical industry to flourish.

It will freeze current spending on branded medicines for two years, followed by a less than 2% increase in the following three years – compared to an average increase of 5% each year under the previous contract.

In 2011/12 the NHS spent more than £12bn on branded medicines, the new contract will see costs above this level being ‘absorbed by the industry’.

A strengthening of statutory regulations, for companies who don’t sign up to the PPRS agreement, will force a 15% price cut on branded medicines to ensure ‘there are always safeguards in place for the NHS around the prices it pays for medicines’.

In a statement, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘This agreement ensures NHS patients will receive the best and most advanced medicines in the world while managing the cost. 

‘UK pharmaceutical companies have responded to the challenges we face as a country, both in terms of the increased demand for medicines and pressure on public spending. I hope in return we have given them the certainty and backing they need to flourish as a sector both here and in the global market.’

ABPI president, Deepak Khanna, said: ‘This has been a very challenging and long negotiation and it should not be underestimated how tough this deal is for the industry. However, we have agreed to play our part in recognising the financial challenges facing the NHS whilst focusing on the key issue of ensuring that patients in the UK get access to the medicines they need.’