The UK president of drug giant AstraZeneca has indicated she would not sign up to another deal similar to the current pharmaceutical pricing scheme unless the NHS makes a ‘substantial’ increase of drugs access.

  • At present, AstraZeneca would not support a drugs pricing deal similar to the current PPRS, its UK president suggests
  • Pharmaceutical price scheme has not “moved the needle on patient access” to new drugs, Lisa Anson claims
  • She says industry had shown financial commitment to the deal

In an interview with HSJ, Lisa Anson said the industry was keeping its side of the current pharmaceutical price regulation scheme agreement, or PPRS, by returning substantial funds to the Department of Health under an agreed cap on growth in total spending on branded drugs.

president AZ Lisa Anson

The agreement has not made much impact in its first 15 months, Lisa Anson said

However, she claimed the DH and NHS were not keeping their side of the agreement, which was to “improve access to innovative medicines commensurate with the outcomes they offer patients by ensuring that medicines approved by [the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] are available widely in the NHS”.

Ms Anson said the PPRS, a five year deal which took effect in January last year, had not “moved the needle on patient access” to new drugs.

She said: “To be honest, from an AstraZeneca point of view, I wouldn’t be saying ‘let’s do a deal like this’ ever again unless we see some substantial change because I haven’t seen very much impact in the first 15 months.”

The deal as agreed is to provide “stability and predictability” to government and industry. It requires pharma to return money to the DH when total drug spending grows above agreed rates. In the first two years total spending is frozen so any growth is returned. Subsequently small increases are agreed.

Ms Anson, speaking to HSJ at Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry conference yesterday, said: “The PPRS has got commitments on both sides. Our commitment is very clear. You can see it in the money that is flowing through [to the NHS].

“In terms of moving the needle on patient access, I don’t see a dramatic change. I’m disappointed to say that, on the ground, I’m not sure that the clinicians feel the ability to make the right decisions for the patients.”

She added: “I’ve talked to hospital chief executives recently who don’t even know of the PPRS’s existence.”

NHS England was paid £360m under the scheme in 2014. This sum was included in CCG allocations for 2014-15 in anticipation that it would be received from pharma during the period.

The ABPI, which represents drug companies in pricing negotiations with the government, estimates the sector will have returned £4bn to the NHS over the life of the agreement.