Value-Based Pricing Could Impact Access to Treatments

A newly report published by a center-right think tank makes the claim that incoming value-based pricing regulations could lead to difficulties in patients accessing treatment.

It’s thought that access to medicine could be jeopardized by loss of patient access schemes, access to medication becoming a political issue, quantifying value, concerns about fairness, conflicts between health value and instruments that regulate commercial markets, short-comings of VBP is application to all situations, the difficulty with pricing a drug which is used for different conditions. The findings were published in “Value-based pricing: the wrong medicine for the nation?”, by independent think tank 2020health.

Julia Manning, CEO of 2020health, said in the report, “Our primary concern is to ensure that sick people have as rapid access as possible to new medicines in the UK, and to give the UK the best possible environment to continue to attract research and development across all life sciences."

Patient access schemes are an agreement made between the Department of Health, the pharmaceutical industry and NICE, that allow for discounts on new medicines to make them cost effective.

"Patients could mistake value-based pricing for a commitment to make more medicines available, which is not the case. One product can have many uses and dosage regimes which are of different ‘value’ to different people. Pricing of medicines can be improved, but not through this entirely new scheme," said Barbara Arzymanow, main author of the report.

The publication urges the government to consider solutions like continuing to allow drug companies to fix their own prices for individual drugs, and lowering the price of older drugs by enough to accommodate high enough prices for new products. Additionally, the authors propose that the government provide a fair financial return to all companies, taking into account the broader need to control public spending, the benefit to the UK economy from high-technology investment and the desirability of R&D to ensure that medicine continues to advance.

They further argue that a pricing system should encourage companies not to overlook rarer diseases in search of drugs for more lucrative markets, for example, by offering a bonus for drugs treating less common conditions. Finally, 2020health believe that more ‘patient access schemes’ would make drugs available to patients on the NHS at a cost that the drug industry would otherwise find unacceptably low.

“Pricing of medicines can be improved, but not through this entirely new scheme. The confidence of patients and the future of medicine are more important than words,” Arzymanow said.

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