Drug Industry Gives Up Legal Battle Over New UK Cost Restraints

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The pharmaceuticals industry of  Britain has thrown in the towel in a legal battle over new cost restraints that are imposed by the state-run health service after its failure to secure a judicial review.

Drugmakers argue that the curbs, which are imposed earlier in 2017, have the possibility to cause notable delays for patients who are waiting for treatment for various conditions, including for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

On Thursday, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said, that its board had unanimously agreed not to appeal after a High Court judge rejected its review application on Wednesday.

The new policy limits the funding of medicines if they are expected to cost the National Health Service (NHS) more than 20 million pounds ($26 million) per year in any of the medicines’ first three years of use.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) implemented the system. The own analysis of NICE reveals that around one in five new medicines will be affected by the decision, which resulted in a long-running argument regarding drug rationing within the NHS.

The new rules imply that drugs that exceed the 20 million pounds threshold will be subjected to an additional negotiation process, even if they are considered to be cost-effective, resulting in a possible delay of three years.

NICE argues that the responsibility is on drugmakers to price medicines responsibly.

The ABPI represents international drugmakers that are operating in Britain, as well as the two big domestic suppliers of the country AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. However, GSK did not back the ABPI action and reservations were expressed by AstraZeneca.

For the last 18 years, Britain has led the way in measuring drug cost-effectiveness in a dispassionate and rational way by using a model of economic benefits that were developed by NICE. However, meeting increasing demand from medical advances and ageing populations is a growing problem for the cash-strapped NHS.

Copycat agencies across Europe – and in countries as diverse as Mexico and South Korea –  were inspired by NICE.

NICE has inspired copycat agencies across Europe – and in countries as diverse as South Korea and Mexico – giving it an influence beyond the 3 percent slice of global drug sales of Britain.