British pharmaceutical companies sue NHS drugs watchdog

By Catherine Sturman
In order to prevent any barriers to drug accessibility, The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is going up against the National H...

In order to prevent any barriers to drug accessibility, The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is going up against the National Health Services’ (NHS) drugs watchdog in a new legal challenge to prevent what can only be described as ‘drug rationing,’ according to The Telegraph.

The move comes following a decision made in April, which would prevent the delay of required funding for essential drugs or medicines through cost grounds (if they are over £20 million a year). However, this is even though these medicines have been deemed cost-effective and good value for money by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The decision could affect a fifth of new drugs which are manufactured, causing a significant impact, not only on the health industry. but the quality of patient care. Patients could see delays in treatments, and be denied access to drugs which could inevitably guarantee a better quality of life.

Richard Torbett, Executive Director at the ABPI, said: “It fundamentally crosses a line to not grant mandatory funding for NICE-approved medicines. This has been a part of the Nice regulations for many years and indeed is a right enshrined in the NHS constitution.”

The ABPI have since stated that they wish to “contravene the fundamental right to access to cost-effective medicines” through a judicial review by NHS England and NICE. The ruling comes at a time when the NHS has a provider deficit of over £2 billion.

“These new arrangements will delay access to cost-effective medicines and deny treatments to patients suffering from rare diseases,” commented ABPI Chief Executive Mike Thompson.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, Chief Executive of the charity Breast Cancer Now, added: “We remain extremely concerned that the budget impact test could see NHS patients experience delays in accessing vital and cost-effective drugs.”

The news comes as a stark reminder of recent events. At the end of last year, pharmaceutical company Pfizer was fined over £82 million by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for increasing their anti-epilepsy drug prices by up to 2000 percent, profiting from the NHS, which is already financially struggling. Additionally, Flynn Pharma was then fined over £5 million for its excessive prices. They have since appealed the decision.

The CMA is now undergoing an investigation with certain companies as a result of the deregulation in drug pricing, which have allowed prices for essential drugs and medicines to become inflated. Any companies found to have acted unlawfully could faces of up to 10 percent of their annual turnover.



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