Ministers set to use drug price capping powers in the event of no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
10th March 2019

Ministers are set to implement new price capping powers to prevent a surge in drug prices in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The new powers will be used to prevent a surge in drug prices
Credit: 
PA images

The Government has drawn up the plans in response to some suppliers increasing prices to “unwarranted levels” as fear of a no-deal Brexit rises.

In December, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiation Committee, warned that a growing number of drugs were being reimbursed at higher rates as ministers moved to build stockpiles ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU.

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The group - which represents pharmacists - said that psychcosis drugs had risen from 62 pence a pack to £3.16 in six month, while some prescription painkillers had soared from £2.08 to £13.70 last year.

It comes after former health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy urged the Government to be prepared to act against companies planning to “take advantage of the situation we face as a country to hike up prices".

“In 2017, the Government took powers in the health service supplies Act to make sure that, in extremis, we can not only ask for information but also impose prices where we think inappropriate pricing may be happening," he said.

In a letter, Government spokesperson Baroness Manzoor revealed the Government had begun the ground work required to allow ministers to invoke the price-setting powers.

"To implement our price setting power the NHS Act 2006 requires us to consult the relevant industry bodies,” she wrote.

"The department is therefore preparing a consultation with industry representative bodies on proposals for implementation of the price setting powers."

She added: "Informal discussion with the industry bodies about these proposals have already taken place.”

Ministers said the 2017 act would give them the power to “limit the price of unbranded medicines where competition in the market fails and companies charge the NHS unreasonably high prices for generic medicines.”