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Revamping the Voluntary Pricing and Access Scheme: UK Life Sciences Industry Calls for Collaborative Partnership

Building on the Spirit of Partnership


The UK BioIndustry Association (BIA) has recently released a comprehensive report titled “Making VPAS Fit for the Future: The BIA Vision.” In light of the unprecedented challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report calls for the next iteration of the Voluntary Pricing and Access Scheme (VPAS) to strengthen the partnership between the government and the life sciences industry. This move aims to ensure that the UK remains a favorable market for the launch of new medicines and sustains its position as a global leader in the field.


Addressing Post-Brexit Concerns


Following a period of political uncertainty post-Brexit, the report highlights concerns about the potential loss of the UK’s status as a preferred first launch market for pharmaceuticals. Moreover, the introduction of an unprecedented rebate rate for pharmaceutical companies in the current voluntary scheme has raised alarm bells within the industry. The BIA’s vision for a revamped VPAS seeks to mitigate these risks and ensure a favorable environment for future investments in life sciences.


A Call for Government-Industry Reset


Central to the BIA’s recommendations is the need for a reset between the government and the life sciences industry. The report emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between taxpayer value and fair returns for innovators. The BIA stresses that this reset should lay the groundwork for a mutually beneficial partnership between the two parties. To achieve this, the report recommends several measures to enhance the VPAS framework and incentivize collaboration.


Financial Controls for Equitable Partnerships


One key aspect of the BIA’s vision is the establishment of more predictable, equitable, and competitive financial controls. The report underscores that the current rebate mechanism was never intended to set a long-term precedent, and it urges the government to recognize this fact. Instead, the industry should not bear the entire financial risk. The BIA proposes a stable and predictable single-digit rate that remains competitive with other markets. Additionally, any VPAS cap should align with the wider increase in healthcare spending, ensuring a fair and reasonable growth rate.


Fostering Collaboration and Genuine Value


The BIA stresses the importance of conducting VPAS negotiations in a spirit of collaboration. It calls for a genuine acknowledgment from ministers regarding the industry’s legitimate concerns. The report also urges a shift in thinking within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and HM Treasury, considering medicines spending as an investment rather than just a cost. By viewing medicines as investments, future iterations of VPAS can deliver mutual value for both the government and the life sciences industry.


Evaluating Health Technology Assessments


To enhance the VPAS framework further, the BIA emphasizes the need for a comprehensive review of health technology assessment (HTA) methods. The report points out that the fundamental measure of a medicine’s value has not been updated for over two decades, highlighting the urgency for reform. It suggests adopting measurable commitments to address the UK’s below-average use of medicines. Furthermore, the BIA advocates for VPAS to be seen as the primary policy for ensuring taxpayer value, discouraging Arm’s Length Bodies from imposing measures that reduce net prices below levels considered cost-effective by HTA bodies.


A Stark Choice for the UK


Steve Bates OBE, CEO of BIA, underscores the significance of the choices faced by the UK. He emphasizes that the country can either foster an environment that welcomes innovative global industries, thereby creating value for the health system, or it can focus solely on cost-saving measures. Bates warns that a cost-saving-centric approach could result in declining investment in life sciences and reduced access to innovative treatments for patients in the National Health Service (NHS). The BIA’s vision for VPAS aims to guide the UK towards the former, ensuring a thriving and sustainable life sciences sector.


In conclusion, the BIA’s report presents a compelling case for revamping the VPAS to strengthen the partnership between the government and the life sciences industry. By adopting the recommendations outlined in the report, the UK can solidify its position as a global leader in healthcare innovation, attract investments, and ensure patients have access to the next generation of transformative treatments. The collaboration between government and industry is vital to achieving these objectives and securing a prosperous future for the UK’s healthcare ecosystem.

Cheyenne Cox is a news report covering multiple Market and economy News. She is creative and highly professional writer. Cheyenne holds a degree in communication and journalism and has also a Diploma in digital marketing. She belongs to south Africa who has also lived in Europe and is currently based in the US.

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