The introduction of value-based pricing (VBP) alone will not solve the issues of access to new medicines in the UK, a leading charity has warned the government.

Ministers plan to introduce a system of VBP for new branded medicines from 2014, after the 2009 Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) comes to an end. The government consultation on its proposals, which ran from December 2010-March 2011, produced a "cautiously enthusiastic" reaction from the majority of stakeholders. However, a year later, this positivity has "evidently ebbed, largely due to the outstanding detail and lack of clarity in the government's consultation response [published last July] and the lack of information forthcoming since," according to Myeloma UK, which has reported on the results of a multi-stakeholder roundtable event which the charity organised to discuss and debate the issues and challenges of VBP.

The roundtable discussions centred on the following four fundamental issue areas related to VBP - price setting, uptake of new medicines, threshold setting and uncertainty.  Within each of these areas, attendees examined the key issues and critical success factors, the fault-lines in the debate and potential areas for stakeholder agreement. Following on from their discussions, Myeloma UK has now put forward a total of 19 recommendations to the government on how to take forward VBP policy across these four areas.

Among the charity’s recommendations are that:

- the government should conduct research to establish the relationship between pharmaceutical pricing and the location of research and clinical trial centres;

- the cost-effectiveness thresholds under VBP should be set by a new, independent advisory body;

- the government should be aware that VBP alone will not solve the issues of access to new medicines in the UK;

- the VBP system should involve greater coordination between the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the pharmaceutical industry and other stakeholders, to ensure there is appropriate evidence collection about a new medicine prior to its launch; and

- determining the value-based price of a new medicine should be a transparent process, but the price agreed should remain confidential to protect the UK's position as a reference-pricing market.

Myeloma UK says it created the forum of opinion leaders and experts from academia, the NHS, patient groups and the pharmaceutical industry in an attempt to drive forward the debate on medicine pricing. The charity's chief executive, Eric Low, adds that: “Myeloma UK will continue to play a role in bringing opinion leaders and experts together, and we look forward to working in close collaboration with the government and all relevant stakeholder groups to ensure any new system of VBP is the best it can be."

- The outcomes of the Myeloma UK multi-stakeholder roundtable event will be reported more fully in an article discussing VBP which is due to appear in the next issue of Pharma Times magazine.