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The Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill was introduced on 15 September 2016 and had its Second Reading on the 24 October 2016.  The Bill was considered in three sessions of the Public Bill Committee on 8 and 15 November.  The remaining stages of the Bill have been tabled for 6 December 2016.

Full background on the Bill, and its provisions as originally presented, can be found in Library Briefing Paper, Commons Library analysis of the Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill

The Bill

The Bill intends to make a number of amendments to the National Health Service Act 2006 on matters related to the control of medicine prices.

The prices of branded medicines for the NHS are regulated in the UK through two schemes, the voluntary Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) and a Statutory Scheme, both of which use measures to control the prices of branded medicines. Manufacturers and suppliers of branded medicines can choose to sign up to the PPRS or will automatically fall under the control of the Statutory Scheme for their branded medicines.  The prices of unbranded generic medicines are not controlled, competition within the market is relied upon to control prices.

The provisions within the Bill intend to address a number of concerns that the Government have expressed relating to medicines pricing. These include that the Statutory Scheme is providing far fewer savings for the NHS than the PPRS and the two schemes should be more aligned, and that a number of single source unbranded generic medicines manufacturers have recently been able to significantly increase prices, often by over 1000%.

The Bill would seek to provide powers for the Secretary of State for Health to:

  • make changes to the statutory scheme to make it more aligned with the PPRS;
  • control the prices of unbranded generic medicines; and
  • require all medicines manufacturers and suppliers to provide information relating to prices.

Government amendments

A number of Government amendments were added at Committee Stage in relation to information requirement processes in the devolved administrations. These specify that the UK Department of Health will collect information from manufacturers and suppliers across the UK, but the Devolved administrations will be responsible for collecting information from GPs and community pharmacies.

Other amendments

A number of Opposition and SNP amendments were discussed during Committee stage. These were related to:

  • requiring that the funds from the PPRS be invested into new and innovative medicines in England;
  • Ensuring the quality of medical supplies is not affected by the provisions in the Bill; and
  • how the Department and devolved Administrations would share information.

A tracked changes version of the Bill showing changes made in Committee has been published on the Parliament website.

Documents to download

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