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NHS: Drugs

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 33956, tabled on 15 July 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to criminalise the inflation of prices for the NHS by drug companies.

Answered on

20 July 2021

Anti-competitive behaviour, including excessive pricing, is a matter for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The Department asks the CMA to investigate where it has concerns about abuses of competition law for generic medicines and where companies are found by the CMA to be in breach of the legislation, the Department will seek damages and invest that money back into the National Health Service.

The Government relies on competition to reduce the prices of generic medicines. This has led to some of the lowest prices in Europe and allows prices to react to the market. The Department has been considering proposals for ways to address high prices of generic medicines and will consult in due course.

The Department also has powers in the NHS Act 2006 to control the prices of NHS medicines. Prices of branded medicines are controlled through the 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access (VPAS) and alternative statutory scheme which utilises those powers. VPAS caps branded medicines' sales at an agreed level of growth. Any growth in sales above this level results in payments made by scheme members.

Named day
Named day questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.