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Wednesday 26th October 2016

NICE concern over medicine costs

15th August 2008

Pharmaceutical companies have been accused of driving up the price of medicines by the chairman of a government health advisory body.

Drugs & Money

Professor Michael Rawlins, chairman of the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), pointed to "perverse incentives" within the pharmaceutical industry as the reason behind drugs being so expensive.

The comments come in an interview with The Observer newspaper and follow recent criticism of NICE for not approving drugs costing £20,000 to £35,000 a year per patient that could extend the lives of patients suffering from kidney cancer.

Sir Michael said: "We are told we are being mean all the time but what nobody mentions is why the drugs are so expensive.

"Pharmaceutical companies have enjoyed double-digit growth year on year and they are out to sustain that, not least because their senior management's earnings are related to the share price.

"It's not in their interests to take less profit, personally as well as from the point of view of the business. All these perverse incentives drive the price up."

He also said he felt the drug companies set prices high to counter the impact when their products are no longer protected by patents as well as to offset the marketing costs their products.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said it costs on average £550m and a decade of work to bring new treatments to patients but despite this drug, companies were committed to cutting prices.

A spokesman added: "Naturally companies will look to recoup such costs through the final price."


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