A report published today (Friday 8th June), by the National Audit Office (NAO), revealed that the sharp and unexpected rise in some generic medicines has cost the NHS an extra £315m during the year 2017-2018 – a seven-fold increase when compared to the year before.
However, some drugs actually increased by up to 70-fold last year following hikes by manufacturers and wholesalers, e.g. Quetiapine, a medication prescribed for severe depression, increased from £1.59 for a pack of 100 tablets all the way up to £113.10 (an increase of over 7000%).
Whilst the report by the National Audit Office points out that the Government ‘could not fully explain’ the sudden increases, many speculate that the sudden rise in prices is due to a single drug manufacturer controlling the monopoly in the manufacturing of specific prescription drugs – meaning that there is no competition from other manufacturers.
Commenting on the report, UKIP’s health spokesperson, Dr Julia Reid MEP, said: “According to the NAO’s report, the unexpected rise in prices in prices have cost the NHS an extra £315m, which, to put that into some perspective, is enough to fund an extra 8639 junior doctors.
“The public should be absolutely outraged by this, and the manufacturers and whole-sellers should be named and shamed. Never in a million years can a 70-fold price increase on drugs like Quetiapineever be justified. They’ve taken advantage of both the NHS and the taxpayer at a time when the NHS is in deep financial difficulty, and that is truly unforgivable.
“This kind of behaviour isn’t exactly a new problem either; a couple of years back, a Times investigation revealed how millionaire businessmen had been increasing the price of drugs bought by the NHS by up to 12,500 per cent.
“However, the good news though, is that from July, the Department of Health will be finally given new powers to control increases in drug prices.”