The majority of UK MPs do not believe the pharmaceutical industry provides value for money for the NHS, new research has shown.
The study, conducted jointly by ComRes and Westminster Advisers, says the sector must do more to demonstrate its value to the nation’s health.
It also suggests that a high number of MPs do not trust the communications they receive from the industry.
The Pharmaceutical Industry and Parliament: a joint report on parliamentary opinion towards the pharmaceutical industry reveals that while MPs from all three main parties have a high regard for the economic importance of the pharmaceutical sector, a worrying 62% believe that the prices the industry charges the NHS for medicines do not deliver value for money. Almost two thirds of MPs (64%) support the introduction of a value-based pricing system.
The research highlights that only 40% of MPs trust the communications they receive from the industry. The highest levels of scepticism appear to be among Labour MPs, with 74% of those surveyed believing the industry does not provide value for money and only 23% trusting industry communications. More than half (53%) of Conservative MPs trust the communications they receive.
Tony Black, Head of Healthcare Research at ComRes, said: “Value for money is the be all and end all for all public policy debates at the present time. Improving levels of trust among MPs towards the communications they receive from the pharmaceutical industry is crucial if pharma is to put itself on the right side of the value debate.”
Proposals to introduce value-based pricing were unveiled last month, with the new pricing method set to be introduced towards the end of 2013 when the current Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) expires. The present PPRS caps the profit pharma companies can make from NHS sales at 29.4%. However, under the Government’s proposed model, companies can set initial prices which are then reviewed to establish cost effectiveness – with either the NHS or pharma reimbursed against the original cost, dependent upon the outcome of the review.
However, the ABPI has warned that the new model may not deliver the NHS savings the Government anticipates. Its Director General, Richard Barker, recently told a conference audience: “There is an unrealistic belief in the Government’s mind that the result is that prices will fall. But I don’t think we know. Value-based pricing is thoroughly logical, but not a magic bullet.”
The ComRes/Westminster Advisers survey showed that only 34% of MPs agreed Britain has poor uptake for new, innovative medicines relative to other European countries, and that 41% ‘don’t know’. The report indicates that there is scope for the industry to take a greater initiative in educating parliamentarians about this critical issue.