Drugmakers fighting for best U.K. deal

As the U.K. nears a long-term drug-pricing deal with pharma firms, drugmakers are grousing about the fact that the government decided to renegotiate at all. You'll recall that late last year, the Department of Health decided to scrap its Pharmaceutical Price Regulation System just two-and-a-half years into the five-year deal. Officials demanded price cuts of up to 10 percent--after a 7 percent cut in 2005. The industry balked; the two sides have been in prickly negotiations since.

As negotiations proceed, pharma firms are pushing for a seven-year deal this time. "There is a lack of confidence," in the government's commitment to the industry, said Nigel Brooksby, chief of Sanofi-Aventis' U.K. ops and president of the British industry association. "I think it is absolutely essential that we remove this dark cloud."

Brooksby has been warning the government that unfriendly policies could drive pharma firms out of the U.K. market. Upset drugmakers are said to be considering packing up various operations and moving them elsewhere. Already Shire has announced it will pull up HQ stakes for Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is less than half the English rate. AstraZeneca is rumored to be mulling a similar move.

- see the Financial Times story
- check out the article in The Telegraph
- find more from Brooksby at Pharma Times
- read Brooksby's predictions for pharma through 2020

ALSO: Indian officials are still hashing over a proposal to extend price controls to 354 additional drugs; already price controls apply to 74 "essential" meds. Report