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Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines, Pricing, Access and Growth (VPAG)

For the first time in over 50 years of this pricing agreement's existence, it recognises that a one-size-fits-all rebate doesn’t work and a more nuanced approach is needed. This is crucial for off-patent medicines such as branded generics and biosimilars, which comprise nearly half of the products covered by the scheme; they already have their costs significantly constrained by competition, saving the NHS more than £15 billion annually. So, we are pleased the new deal reflects our call for a tiered approach that takes into account the contribution off-patent medicines already make in terms of vital savings.

More broadly, while it is heartening to see an increase in the overall growth rate, we are concerned that with next year’s level still at 2%, there is a continuing risk of increased medicine shortages. We also want more details on the proposed industry-funded investment facility worth £400m over five years. It refers to being used to support, among other things, manufacturing. Generic manufacturers must have fair and equal access to this support. Otherwise, the government will have missed an ideal opportunity to mitigate the considerable jeopardy to generic medicine manufacturing in the UK – a crucial issue as generic medicines account for four out of five drugs used by the NHS.