Cost of Pharmaceutical Drugs to the NHS

I fully appreciate the concerns of all those who have contacted me over this issue and I would like to assure you that the Government is committed to paying a fair price for drugs. That is why the Secretary of State for Health has asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to urgently look into whether pharmaceutical companies are exploiting the NHS by increasing their prices. I understand from ministerial colleagues that the CMA is currently carrying out five investigations related to suspected anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. The CMA has the power to impose tough financial penalties on any company that is found to have charged excessive prices.

The Government is already working closely with the industry on a range of issues, including the pricing of new medicines, through mechanisms such as the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme. This scheme is a voluntary agreement between the Government and pharmaceutical industry which controls the costs of branded medicines sold to the NHS. Through measures such as this, the Government is taking action to ensure drugs represent value for money to the NHS and the UK taxpayer.

I am aware that the Government is currently in discussions with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry about how best to ensure appropriate pricing throughout the system, and I shall be keeping a close eye on what transpires.