The NHS is set to save £7bn by the end of the year thanks to a five-year deal with the pharmaceutical industry as the health service continues to cement its place as a world-leader in delivering innovative medicines to patients across the country.
Originally introduced in 2019, the voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing and access (VPAS) supports faster patient access to potentially life-saving treatments. Everything from common cancer treatments to cutting-edge new gene therapies have benefitted thousands of patients as a result of the project.
Will Quince, Health Minister, said: “Not only has VPAS delivered value for money for the taxpayer and saved the NHS billions of pounds, it has also saved people’s lives by supporting cancer patients and others with life-threatening conditions to have rapid access to new, life-saving and life-extending treatments.
“The scheme is vitally important as it keeps the branded medicine bill affordable for the NHS, and ensures the UK life sciences industry can earn the money it needs to fund research and development into new and improved medicine.”
Some of the things NHS England has achieved through the programme include:
- Delivering a trailblazing rollout of cystic fibrosis triple therapy;
- Obtaining the best access on the continent for a number of new drugs, including sotorasib and darolutamide;
- Agreeing commercial deals for three new treatments for children and adults with spinal muscular atrophy in less than three years;
- Striking a series of agreements for HIV treatments and preventative medicines.
Statistics also show that NHS patients in England benefit from five treatments for every four available in Europe, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The DHSC’s Chief Negotiations Advisor, Sir Hugh Taylor, commented: “The future VPAS scheme must continue to benefit the NHS and give its patients access to the best medicines, while supporting our life sciences sector.”
With Taylor presiding over the talks, negotiations for the current VPAS’s successor will commence this spring – the follow-up deal will take action on the 1st of January 2024.
Director for Commercial Medicines Negotiation at NHS England, Rob Kettell, added: “The NHS has a track record of using its commercial capabilities to secure world-leading access to life-changing new treatments for patients at the best value for the taxpayer, with recent industry data placing the UK in the top 3 fastest G20 countries to roll-out new medicines.
“This scheme has had a major impact for thousands of patients and their families, and ahead of negotiations for a new branded medicines agreement, the NHS is committed to working with government and industry to ensure that patients’ needs are at the forefront of these discussions.”