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Biosimilars and generics saved NHS £324m last year

Published on 02/08/18 at 08:12am

The NHS watchdog, NHS Improvement, has revealed that the British National Health Service saved £324 million last financial year by using more cost effective biosimilars and generics, instead of more costly alternatives. The watchdog noted that the biosimilar and generic drugs are just as safe and effective as the more expensive, original versions.

The NHS spent £17.4 billion on medicines between 2016 and 2017. However that figure could be reduced significantly through the use of cheaper alternatives. Approximately 15% of NHS spending goes towards the procurement of drugs. However that figure has increased by an average of 5% each year as drug prices increase steadily.

The watchdog noted that nearly £100 million was saved last year through the use of an Infliximab biosimilar used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Meanwhile an Imatinib generic anti-cancer medicine saved the NHS more than £65 million in the same year. 

The watchdog stated their intent to make a further £200 million saving this year. It is expected that the NHS will save approximately half of this amount through the use of a trastuzumab biosimilar which is used as a treatment for breast cancer.

Dr Jeremy Marlow, Executive Director of Operational Productivity at NHS Improvement commented: “As more people are diagnosed with long term conditions, such as arthritis and cancer, we must ensure the NHS uses its resources as efficiently as possible to treat and care for them. By delivering £324 million in savings in a single year from switching to better value but equally effective and safe medicines, the NHS has been able to help more patients manage their conditions. There is more still to do, with £200 million of additional savings to be achieved this year. We will also continue to find further opportunities to use medicines more effectively and make every penny of the NHS’s budget count.”

Louis Goss

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