Many constituents have contacted me about the cost of pharmaceutical drugs to the NHS. I fully appreciate these concerns – any unfair financial gain made at the expense of the NHS is wrong and I can assure you that my colleagues at the Department of Health are determined to sort it out.

 

There are arrangements in place to ensure that the prices paid by the NHS for medicines provide value for money. The Government works closely with the industry on a range of issues, including the pricings of new medicines, through mechanisms such as the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme.

 

The prices and the profits made on the sales of branded medicines to the NHS are controlled by this voluntary scheme, and if a company chooses not to join, it is subject to a statutory scheme which controls the prices of branded medicines.

 

Furthermore, the Department of Health does not control the price of generic medicines, relying on competition to drive down prices. The Secretary of State for Health has asked the Competition and Markets Authority to urgently look into whether pharmaceutical companies are exploiting the NHS by increasing their prices.

 

I understand that the Competition and Markets Authority is currently carrying out five investigations related to suspected anti-competitive practices in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector, and it can impose tough financial penalties on a company that is found to have charged excessive prices.   In addition, as Minister of State for Health, I am currently in discussions with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry about how best to ensure appropriate pricing throughout the system   I will continue to keep you updated with progress on these discussions.