The regulation of medicine pricing is a responsibility of the UK Government, but the Scottish Government are involved in the UK-wide voluntary agreement between the four UK countries and the pharmaceutical industry that caps NHS spending on branded medicines called the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access (VPAS).
Where companies’ revenue exceeds the cap agreed as part of the VPAS agreement, the Scottish Government, along with the three other UK administrations, receive rebates from companies that are signatories to the voluntary agreement.
The Scottish Government use the money received from the VPAS receipts to fund the New Medicines Fund (NMF). The main aim of the fund is to help health boards with the costs of introducing new medicines, including the costs of orphan, ultra-orphan and end of life medicines.
The NMF covers medicines approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), or in cases where the medicine is not recommended, for treatment agreed on an individual patient ‘case-by-case’ basis, through PACS Tier One and PACS Tier Two.
The SNP support a renewal of the VPAS agreement on the original terms, that is a cap and not the 6.8% fixed rebate.
This is necessary to ensure that medicines remain affordable in Scotland, especially due to the fact that the prescriptions are free in Scotland and the cost is therefore not passed onto patients.
We call on the UK Government to not cave to pharmaceutical companies, and to ensure that the four National Health Services throughout the UK are not hit with spiralling costs, especially at a time when pressures are high and the UK Government refuses to unlock additional funding.
The UK Government must secure the future of VPAS, and do so in a way that supports the NHS not private profits.