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NHS negotiating power saving taxpayer £1.2bn on medicine

The NHS have announced they’ve saved taxpayers approximately £1.2bn over the course of the past three years by using its “power to negotiate” better prices for cutting-edge treatments and medicines.

Accounting for around a third of the savings was the choice to buy cheaper versions of the drug adalimumab, which is typically used to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis.

When the exclusive patent for the branded drug expired back in 2018, the NHS made the decision to negotiate more cost-effective deals and bulk-buy more generic versions of the drug – ultimately saving lots of money without sacrificing the quality, safety, or efficacy of their treatments.

Since then, the NHS have endeavoured to buy the most cost-effective version of a drug, so much so, that four in five medicines prescribed in the NHS are now non-branded, subsequently saving the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds.

NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “Smart deals by the NHS mean patients are getting the best medicines and taxpayers are getting best value.

“The NHS has once again shown our commercial power to secure cutting-edge treatments for patients while freeing up £1.2bn of taxpayers’ money, through negotiating better prices for high volumes of branded and non-branded drugs – ensuring that our frontline staff have the necessary medicines to support high-quality patient care wherever you live.

“From better value treatment for arthritis to a ‘one-shot’ jab for spinal muscular atrophy, this approach is part of our NHS Long Term Plan, giving patients access to the latest life-changing medicines as early as possible as well as ensuring every NHS pound is spent wisely.”

The NHS also now require suppliers to hold extra medicines on UK soil, so that backup stock can be made available, allowing doctors to mobilise and get their first-choice treatment quicker and more of the time.

The health service’s new modus operandi hasn’t inhibited their ability to lead the responses against the world’s most pressing issues, and emerging problems. They led in the use of the generic drug dexamethasone, which was the world’s first effective treatment for hospitalised Covid-19 patients.

They have also managed to procure the life-saving gene therapy Libmeldy for the treatment of the ultra-rare condition metachromatic leukodystrophy, which is a hereditary disorder that causes fatty substances – otherwise known as lipids – to build up in cells, most notably in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.

The NHS have also provided their patients with access to Zolgensma – the one-shot spinal muscular atrophy jab.

Mark Samuels, Chief Executive of the British Generic Manufacturers Association, said: “A strong relationship between the NHS and the generic medicines industry is vital to providing patient access to treatments while delivering better value for the health service.

“Working in partnership with the British generics industry is helping to ensure that NHS hospitals have a secure supply of medicines for patients across the country, and some of the lowest generic drug prices in Europe are also helping to deliver significant savings for taxpayers.”

More information about the new approach to procurement is available here.

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