The Department of Health and the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) have announced a joint initiative to explore potential challenges to the sustainability of the generic pharmaceutical industry in England.

Based on proposals in an action plan drawn up by the BGMA, the Department will facilitate conversations across government to understand issues and to identify where appropriate action can be taken.

The partnership will look at topics including intellectual property, evergreening, patent law, exclusivity, the development and implementation of regulation, pricing and reimbursement, prescribing and dispensing rules and advice, and industrial policy. 

Announcing the initiative at the BGMA's annual general meeting yesterday, the Association's chairman, Michael Cann, pointed out that the UK generic industry's prices are currently among the lowest in Europe, if not the world, and that the sector is seeing greater margin pressure from its customers.

“Competitive yet reasonable prices are required if we are to fund the necessary development of the more complex medicines, including biosimilars, that our industry needs to develop if we are to continue to make the contribution that we do now. And we need to ensure the continuation of our current vibrant, competitive multi-source market to deliver these benefits," said Mr Cann.

He also stressed the need to ensure that there are no unnecessary barriers to generics' entry to the market and that regulation is "proportionate."

"The European Commission's sector inquiry identified a number of barriers, and our own work and the commentaries of others have added to the list. It is right therefore as an industry that we should work with the government to look holistically at the generic pharmaceutical marketplace to ensure that it is as efficient as possible," said Mr Cann.

The meeting was also addressed by Health Minister Lord Howe, who said that prescribing generic medicines, where appropriate, helps ensure better value for money for both the NHS and the taxpayer.

"The NHS continues to improve the way it utilises its resources, and promoting the widespread use of generic medicines is one of several robust measures the government has put in place to make sure we get the best value from what the NHS spends on drugs. This will create savings, which will in turn be invested in new and innovative treatments for patients," he said.

“We will work with the BGMA to help take forward their work on tackling the challenges to the generic medicines industry,” the Minister added.