General public has fundamental misunderstanding of cost and value of medicines

General public has fundamental misunderstanding of cost and value of medicines

A new survey commissioned by the ABPI has revealed that the British public misunderstands the cost and value of medicines in the UK.

The figures show that many mistakenly believe the NHS spends much more on medicines than it actually does, whilst there is poor understanding of the huge expense involved in their discovery, development, approval and launch.

The head of the UK pharmaceutical industry believes it is vital that the public better understands the facts and fully appreciates their low cost compared to their considerable economic and health benefits.

The survey shows:

    Over a third of respondents (35 per cent) think that 20 per cent or more of the NHS budget is spent on medicines. In reality, the NHS spent just 9.7 per cent of its entire budget on medicines in 2011, down from 12.5 per cent in 1999.
    Among the most striking of the figures shows that over half of people (59 per cent) think that it costs pharmaceutical companies less than £10m 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 £1bn to create a new medicine – a process that typically takes over 12 years.
    The survey also found that 77 per cent of patients would like spending on medicines to increase or stay the same compared with 19 per cent that would opt for a decrease. Spending in this area is set to stay flat over the next three years but spending on the newest medicines is set to fall significantly to just 2 per cent of the overall budget for medicines by 2015.

Commenting, Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, said:

    "I am really concerned that people do not understand the cost or value of medicines in this country. To create new treatments in the UK, the pharmaceutical industry undertakes huge risk and investment and is still able to provide the NHS with amongst the lowest priced medicines in Europe.

    "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.  In the coming months we will be doing much to educate people and patients of the facts about medicines – the huge benefits, the low prices and the high cost of development."

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Notes to Editor

    The survey was conducted by GfK NOP between 3 August and 5 August 2012, interviewing 1,000 people.
    The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK.

    Our industry, a major contributor to the economy of the UK, brings life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients. Our members supply 90 per cent of all medicines used by the NHS, and are researching and developing over two-thirds of the current medicines pipeline, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of helping patients prevent and overcome diseases.

    The ABPI is recognised by government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry, for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK.