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ABPI concerned about medicines misconceptions Posted 21/09/2012

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies in the UK. In a new survey commissioned by the association issues of misunderstandings by the British public have been highlighted regarding the cost and value of medicines in the UK.

General public has fundamental misunderstanding of cost and value of medicines
The cost of medicines gets considerable media coverage, and this has left the British public with some misconceptions, according to an ABPI survey. The survey was conducted by market research agency GfK NOP between 3 and 5 August 2012, interviewing 1,000 people.

Over a third of respondents (35%) think that 20% or more of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) budget is spent on medicines. In reality, the NHS spent just 9.7% of its entire budget on medicines in 2011, down from 12.5% in 1999.

Over half of people (59%) think that it costs pharmaceutical companies less than GBP 10 million (Euros 12.5 million) to research and develop a medicine. This shows that people have a poor understanding of the huge investment required to bring a medicine to market as it costs on average over GBP 1 billion (Euros 1.25 billion) to create a new medicine–a process that typically takes over 12 years.

Chief Executive is ‘concerned’
The head of the UK pharmaceutical industry, Mr Stephen Whitehead, believes it is vital that the public fully appreciates the low cost of medicines in the UK compared to their considerable economic and health benefits. ‘These medicines are the bedrock of the NHS and have saved and changed the lives of millions of people. Many diseases which once caused significant suffering, such as HIV, diabetes and heart disease, are now manageable conditions which people can live with until old age, and their treatment becomes cheaper as generics can be used once medicines lose their patent.’

‘What’s more, our medicines can save the system money because their effective use can often reduce the need for expensive hospital care and operations. As well providing real value, we also contribute billions annually to the UK economy and provide 67,000 jobs.’

Good news?
Despite their idea that over 20% of the NHS budget goes on medicines, 77% of patients surveyed would like spending on medicines to increase or stay the same compared with 19% who would opt for a decrease. Perhaps the public has in fact got an exaggerated idea of the importance of medicines, compared to other treatments that do not grab the headlines.

In fact, spending in this area is set to stay flat over the next three years despite the ‘patent cliff’. By then spending on the newest medicines should have fallen significantly. So proportionate spending on generics is projected to increase. No doubt the APBI would like pressure on the government to support research into new drugs but this seems unlikely in the present economic climate.

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Source: ABPI

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