In the week that drugs company Pfizer was fined £84.2m for overcharging the NHS for an anti-epilepsy drug, Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has backed a Costs of Medicine Bill in Parliament. The Bill will limit the cost of some medicines and ensure that NHS patients get better value for money from drug companies.
Alex Chalk said: “Medicine is the second largest cost to the NHS, after staffing. A recent investigation found that 32 generic medicines have risen in price by more than 1000 per cent in the last five years (The Times 3 June 2016).
“It is unacceptable that drugs companies get monopoly control of generic drugs and then increase the prices. The drugs company Pfizer has just been fined a record £84.2m for overcharging the NHS for an anti-epilepsy drug. Another company, Flynn Pharma has been fined £5.2m for a 2,600% overnight price increase for the drug in 2012.
“The simplest and quickest way to sort this out is through new legislation.”
The Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill, rapidly becoming known as the ‘Costs of Medicines Bill’ – will strengthen Department of Health powers. It will limit the cost of unbranded medicines and force drug companies to provide information relating to prices to medicines.
Mr Chalk continued:
“Here in Gloucestershire, the CCG has identified ‘a best use of medicine’ approach as part of their Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). The ‘over the odds’ cost of some drugs is a huge drain on our local resources. That’s why I supported the Bill. I want to do what I can to stop drug companies exploiting loopholes and raising prices to our NHS.
“I am preparing a detailed submission on Gloucestershire’s STP. I support the CCG’s investigation into the ‘best use of medicine’. I want to make sure they get the best deal possible from drug manufacturers.
Mr Chalk added: “The NHS in England spent £16.8 billion on medicines during 2015-16 That’s a 20 per cent increase since 2010-2011. I want to make sure that patients get access to innovative and cost-effective medicines as quickly as possible. Reducing medicine costs for the NHS will increase the resources available to provide desperately need treatments and services.’’