The latest version of the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme agreed by the UK government and drugmakers represents "a missed opportunity for patients, industry and the UK economy".

The drugs giant says that the pricing deal shows "a real and growing disconnect between the government’s stated ambitions, and its actions, in life sciences and in improving patients outcomes". It adds that the "overriding focus on managing costs and its failure to see medicines as a longer term investment is a short term and damaging approach".

Pfizer argues that with less than £1 in every £10 of the NHS budget spent on medicines, the UK spends less per person than comparable countries. By January 2014, the industry will have already given over £4 billion back to the NHS in price cuts over the last ten years and by the end of next year, it will have saved the NHS a further £3 billion as a result of patent expiries.

NICE blocking drugs

The firm goes on to say that "whilst at first sight this deal seems to improve access for those medicines already approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, it does not address the fundamental problems currently blocking many innovative new medicines from reaching the patients who need them". Pfizer says that since 2005, only 31% of drugs have been recommended by NICE in line with their licence, and this year, "of the 12 single technology appraisals on which NICE has made final or preliminary decisions for new cancer medicines, only one has received a positive preliminary recommendation". Of those that are recommended, "the NHS is too slow to adopt them".

The company adds that whilst the government wants to see more R&D in the UK, "it is not prepared to pay for the life-changing and life-saving medicines that result from this investment. In today’s competitive global economy such a stance sends the wrong signal for potential future decisions".

Jonathan Emms, UK managing director for Pfizer, said that "Iow the deal is agreed, government must take action to fix the UK system and ensure that innovative new medicines get to the patients who need them. NICE must be given a new mandate, one that makes it a beacon for innovation".