Seasons Greetings, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Written by David Jones

Dec 7, 2023

December 7, 2023

Two subjects this month, a quick revisit to the VPAS situation and our plans for 2024.

VPAS … again

The new VPAS scheme was agreed at the end of November, and although the ABPI and Pharma Industry publicly support the deal it’s difficult to realistically see it as the kind of reset that many in and around the industry had expected, or hoped for.

The new deal, struck between was the UK government, NHS England, and the Pharma Industry is slated to save the NHS £14 billion over five years in medicines costs (according to the press release from the ABPI on 20th November). The 2024 VPAS has reset the annual allowed growth in sales of branded medicines from 2% in 2024, rising to 4% by 2027, and all older medicines that have not previously had price reductions will pay a top-up rate of up to 25% plus a base rate of 10%. The top-up will taper down for older medicines that have already been subject to price reductions.

The statutory scheme option

Pharma companies can opt out of VPAS, and automatically take part in the new Statutory Scheme, but details emerged showing that companies participating would have to pay rebates on sales of branded medicines ranging from 21.9% in 2024 to 26.8% in 2026. “While the published rates are down on the record 27.5% rebate in 2023, they remain well above the historical average of 10.6% before this year” the ABPI said in a 5th December press release. Manufacturers must choose which scheme to be a member of before the end of December 2023.

Also under the new agreement, the Pharma industry will invest £400 million over 5 years through the Life Sciences Investment Programme to drive forward UK innovation, sustainability, and growth.

The press release added “Despite unprecedented levels of objections to the consultation, with an overwhelming majority of the 97 responses rejecting the plans, the government has largely decided to press ahead with plans industry leaders have warned are likely to be highly damaging to UK life sciences and NHS patients’ access to medicines”.

But the money has to come from somewhere and it’s clearly going to continue to affect the support that Pharma is able to assign to non-core activities like patient advocacy support and education programmes. To what degree this will happen is unclear, but it will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds in 2024 and beyond.

Future plans

Just a quick heads-up for 2024: We’ve got events in Haematology, MS, Diabetes, Cardiology, Nephrology, Obesity and a couple of other disease areas TBC in the new year. We’ll be holding meetings across the globe including multiple events in London along with São Paulo, Tokyo, Glasgow, Manchester and others. Looking further ahead we’re at the discussion stage for meetings in the Middle and Far East, and North America.

Our MedEd hub, www.opendialogue.health will continue to grow in 2024, with multimedia and podcasts from all of our live meetings. We’ll also be expanding the programme of monthly webcasts which have so far covered diabetes but will be extended to other areas. Keep a look-out for the monthly updates when they land in your mailbox.

Don’t forget, all of our multi-funded activities are supported and endorsed by our good friends at The Lancet and we look forward to building on the great relationship we have with them in 2024.

Have a great seasonal break, see you next year!

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