A story by Chris Ford, Lecturer in Accounting & Management, Lancaster University.
A recent Sunday Times expose of drug price rises in the NHS revealed that drug companies were exploiting a loophole that allowed them to charge up to 2,358% more for medicines through a process called “debranding”. Because the NHS has strict rules governing how much it will pay for branded drugs, some pharma companies were able to charge more by essentially re-categorising them.
The report suggested that, among other examples, phenytoin sodium capsules, used to treat epilepsy, had gone from costing the NHS £2.3m before it was debranded to just over £50m in 2013.
The finger of blame was pointed at the usual villain – the pharmaceutical industry. But while drug companies might be to blame for finding loopholes in price-capping rules, the question we should be asking is: what does this tell us about how health is being managed in the UK?
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