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NHS hospitals paying 167% more for drugs since 2010/11

Published on 23/11/18 at 09:12am
Image Credit: Andrew Tatlow

Medicines are costing the NHS more than 50% more than a decade ago, while hospitals are paying more than twice as much for their drugs since 2010/11, according to new figures published by NHS Digital.

The new data, published on the 15 November, showed that £20.2 billion was spent on medicines at list price in 2017/18, representing a 55% increase from the £13 billion spent on medicines in 2010/11.

The £20.2 billion spent on medicines in both primary care and hospitals as well as in community and hospital pharmacies represents a marked increase from the £18 billion spent in 2016/17.

Of the total cost, £8.9 billion (44%) was allocated to drugs prescribed in primary care, representing a 3% rise in the past seven years. However the biggest price increase was on drugs used in hospitals on which there was a 167% increase from £4 billion to £11 billion between 2010/11- 2017/18.

Global Justice Now pharmaceuticals campaigner Heidi Chow commented: “It’s outrageous that the NHS is paying such high prices for existing drugs. At the same time, patients are being denied access to effective drugs, even though they exist, because their price tag is just too high for the NHS.”

“We treasure the principle of public healthcare for all, free at the point of use, but this is undermined by our system of privatised medicines. We have to question what is going wrong in this system and recognise that medicines are not luxury goods like handbags, but an urgent necessity.”

Louis Goss

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