Warning over plan to axe drug price fixing

Government plans to abolish the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) will have a 'huge impact' on the healthcare comms industry, a leading PR consultant has warned.

Pharmaceutical drugs
Pharmaceutical drugs

Fleishman-Hillard director Claire Ashbridge-Thomlinson was speaking after the issue came to the fore at the agency's annual healthcare industry debate last week. The debate pitted former ABPI director general Trevor Jones and The Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton against one another.

The Office of Fair Trading has proposed abolishing the PPRS, which sets the price the NHS pays for branded drugs, and replacing it with a system of value-based pricing of each medicine.

Ashbridge-Thomlinson warned that lower prices would mean less money for PR. She said: 'Fixed pricing will have implications for marketing spend and a huge impact on the PR and PA side. If pharma companies receive less money for their drugs in the UK, they will have less to spend on comms activity. PR and PA agencies need to be aware of this.'

The Fleishman-Hillard debate concluded that the PPRS should not be abolished. However, it was agreed that any new liberalised agreement should retain the link between investment in research and development and manufacturing in the UK.

Negotiations between the Government and the pharmaceutical industry are ongoing. Talks are expected to be concluded in late summer, according to a Department of Health spokeswoman.

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