The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has renewed its call to boost spending on new medicines in the UK, after finding that, by 2015, just 2.5% of the entire medicines budget will be spent on newly-launched drugs.

The group has accused the National Health Service of slashing its expenditure on new medicines as a means of meeting tough spending targets, but warned that this "crude" way of generating savings could be "hampering" the treatment of patients.

Life sciences leaders area calling for the new decision makers in the NHS "to make a break with the past, stop cutting and start investing in innovative life-saving and life-changing medicines," the ABPI said. 

The call comes on the back of new data highlighting just how little the UK's investment in medicines is compared with many other developed nations.

Overall, the UK spends 74 pence per person per day on medicines, compared with £1.11 in Germany, £1.40 in France, £1.70 in Japan and £2.21 in the US.

Similarly, looking at new medicines, the UK spends just  7p per person per day, compared with 21p in Germany, 22p in France, 30p in Japan and 36p in the US. 

Lowest prices

"It is particularly frustrating that we still struggle to get these new medicines to patients when we also consider that the UK has amongst the lowest prices in Europe and the NHS will save over a billion pounds every year until 2015 as medicines lose their patent and are prescribed generically,” said Stephen Whitehead, ABPI chief executive.

"Our healthcare system needs to focus much more on caring for patients in their own homes and much less on treatment in expensive hospitals. Investing in new, innovative medicines will be absolutely key to this, and there will significant rewards if we get this right – improving patient’s quality of life and ensuring the financial sustainability of the NHS," he added.

The Department of Health could not provide its position on the matter in time for publication.