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Proposals to display medicines pricing on packaging

The Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have been consulting on a number of amendments to regulations relating the the functioning of pharmacies.

A set of these amendments relate to a proposal made by the Secretary of State for Health that indicative prices would be put on all medicines dispensed by the NHS in England costing more than £20 as well as a statement about how the cost of the medicine is met such as for example ‘funded by the taxpayer’. It is suggested that this would reduce waste by reminding people of the cost of medicines, and also improve patient care by improving patient adherence to medicines.

We are very concerned about this proposal, which is likely to be very difficult to implement and also to not have the intended effect. At least within the field of rare and genetic conditions, patients tend to already be aware whether they are taking a high cost medicine.

NHS England has not presented any evidence to support the claim that printing the prices of high cost medicines on the packaging will increase adherence. On the contrary, this proposal is may have a negative impact. We are concerned that vulnerable patients may stop taking their medicines, or reduce their dosage, without consulting their doctor, due to guilt or other feelings regarding the cost of the medicine.

We would urge the Department of Health to wait until the likely impact of this proposal has been evaluated through substantial research before taking any steps to implement package pricing.

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