The Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access (VPAS) is a scheme designed to regulate the prices of branded prescription medicines in the United Kingdom (UK). The scheme was introduced in 2019 and replaces the previous Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS).
Under the VPAS, pharmaceutical companies voluntarily agree to limit the amount by which they can increase the prices of their branded medicines sold to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.
The scheme also includes provisions for improving patient access to innovative medicines, including:
Guaranteeing that NHS patients have access to all newly licensed medicines within 90 days of a positive regulatory decision.
Improving the availability of clinical trial data to inform prescribing decisions.
Supporting the development of new payment models for high-cost medicines to ensure their affordability.
Encouraging the use of best practices for managing the supply chain of medicines to ensure reliable availability.
Pharmaceutical companies that sign up to the VPAS commit to maintaining the prices of their branded medicines sold to the NHS below a certain level. The level is determined by a formula that takes into account factors such as the rate of inflation and the cost of producing the medicine. The scheme also includes provisions for reducing the prices of medicines that are deemed to be excessively expensive. The VPAS is designed to strike a balance between ensuring that patients have access to innovative medicines while also controlling the cost of healthcare in the UK. The scheme is overseen by the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for enforcing the pricing regulations.
The VPAS is a voluntary scheme, which means that pharmaceutical companies are not legally required to participate in it. However, the UK government strongly encourages companies to sign up to the scheme, as it is seen as a key part of the government's strategy for controlling the cost of healthcare in the country. Participation in the VPAS is open to all pharmaceutical companies that sell branded medicines to the NHS in the UK. Companies that choose to participate in the scheme are required to submit data on their sales and prices to the MHRA, which is used to monitor compliance with the pricing regulations. The VPAS is intended to remain in place until the end of 2023. At that point, it will be reviewed and updated as necessary to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of patients, the NHS, and the pharmaceutical industry. In summary, the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access is a voluntary scheme designed to regulate the prices of branded prescription medicines sold to the NHS in the UK. Pharmaceutical companies that sign up to the scheme commit to limiting the amount by which they can increase their prices, and also agree to improve patient access to innovative medicines. The scheme is overseen by the Department of Health and Social Care and enforced by the MHRA.