Committee calls for more details on UK's value-based drug pricing plans

The House of Commons Health Committee called Wednesday on the UK government to provide further detail on its plans for value-based pricing of drugs, noting that a lack of clarity is creating uncertainty for industry and doctors. The new system, first revealed in 2010, is due to come into effect in 2014 and will see value-based pricing used for new medicines, while the vast majority of drugs will continue to be priced using the existing Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme.

The committee said "there has been extensive discussion of the principle of value-based pricing but it remains a source of concern that so little progress has been made on defining this nebulous concept." The parliamentary committee added that "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," calling on the government to make clear its plans by March.

A Department of Health spokesman said "we are engaging a range of groups including patients, the NHS and industry as we develop plans for value-based pricing." However, the spokesman indicated that "as negotiations between the Department of Health and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry are under way, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

The criticism was contained in a report from the committee on the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, recommending that the agency have greater access to information from drugmakers. The report noted that it was neither “legal nor ethical” that NICE did not always have full access to clinical trial results of drugs that were submitted for assessment, calling for all such data to be made public. The committee also suggested that NICE should remain an advisory body and not be able to instruct doctors on the best treatments.

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