Medicines campaign saves £700m

Author: Mark Gould

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An NHS campaign supporting patients and doctors to maximise the use of “generic” and best value “biologic” treatments to treat conditions including arthritis and cancer has saved more than £700m.

New figures show that the uptake of best value medicines lowered costs to taxpayers by £294m last year alone, on track to meet its ambitious target of a further £400m annual savings by 2021.

A single drug – adalimumab – treatment for arthritis and other diseases, saved £110m alone thanks to a “smart procurement”, after the drug came off patent at the end of 2018. Previously, adalimumab was the individual medicine on which hospitals spent the most, at a cost of more than £400m a year.

Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “The NHS is one of the most efficient health services in the world but as part of the Long Term Plan, we will continue to drive changes to ensure every NHS pound is spent wisely and patients have access to innovative life changing medicines.

“Use of the best value versions of expensive medicines is already delivering effective treatment for patients across the NHS, including those with cancer, offering the right care for patients while saving the tax payer hundreds of millions of pounds.”

The NSH says savings for 2018-19 come on top of the £413m saved from the annual medicines bill in the previous two years by maximising the use of best value “generic” and “biologic” treatments. Taken together the savings mean the campaign to drive take-up has seen more than £700m freed up to reinvest in other effective medicines.

NHS England has previously announced plans to accelerate and widen the uptake of best value “biologic” medicines in a bid to save £400m to £500m per year by 2020/21.

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