The patient voice in the assessment of value of medicines needs to be louder than it is at present, but the pricing of medicines "has to remain the absolute domain of companies," the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has stated.

The industry group’s comments came in its response to Pharma Times on the report issued earlier this week by a coalition of cancer charities, led by Prostate Cancer UK, which accused the government of "shutting patients out" of the negotiations now underway for changes to the UK-wide system for pricing and assessing new drugs.

The charities have called for patients to have a strong and equal voice in the discussions about the introduction of value-based pricing (VBP) for new drugs. While they "welcome efforts to move away from the current unwieldy process of pricing drugs, it is clear that a new system which better reflects the value medicines bring to patients cannot be achieved if patients are not included in the process," said Prostate Cancer UK's chief executive, Owen Sharp.

In its response to Pharma Times, the ABPI says that it supports the creation of a more meaningful vehicle for patient involvement in medicines access decisions.

"We believe better access for patients should be the prime objective of the new pricing arrangements for branded medicines, and we want the patient voice to be louder in the assessment of value of medicines than it is at present," said a spokesman for the Association.

But, he added: "pricing of medicines has to remain the absolute domain of companies. There are huge global implications from decisions that are made on price and, therefore, the negotiation of any new pricing scheme has to be a bilateral negotiation between the industry and the government."

The spokesman also pointed out that the pharmaceutical industry is in "constant dialogue" with patient groups, and that subjects such as VBP and pricing were discussed with these groups prior to the negotiations.

Meantime, another alliance of cancer charities has said that value assessment of new medicines cannot be undertaken without the input of patients and those who represent them.

Cancer52, an alliance of more than 60 charities representing patients with rarer cancers, says it believes that there is an essentially two-stage process in VBP - value assessment, and linking price with that value assessment.

To proceed on value assessment without the input of patients and their representatives "presumes a competence attributed to the ABPI to represent the views of patients," says the alliance, adding: "the ABPI have yet to signal their willingness to adopt that role."

Cancer52 says it "wants to work with government on design, implementation and evaluation of the value assessment within VBP so that it can deliver on its promise of improved access, and ensure incentives for innovation on treatments for those with rare and less-common cancers."