Reputation – HCPs: Relationship with the NHS

Read more about how healthcare professionals view the relationship between the pharmaceutical sector and the NHS

Healthcare professionals remain positive about industry support of the NHS

Over seven in ten agree the sector supports the NHS with treating patients and six in ten agree it works closely with NHS doctors to develop new medicines.

There is a high degree of belief that pharmaceutical companies work with universities to develop new medicines, though the strength of agreement has dipped slightly relative to 2021. Nearly three in four agree that pharmaceutical companies are committed to developing new medicines to help meet people’s needs, though HCPs are less emphatic in their agreement than the previous wave of the index.

There seem to be less [R&D] sites in the UK, over the time my career has spanned. I do remember reading some articles that that's been the case. I suppose Brexit has influenced that as well. I think it's getting worse. Maybe 10 years ago it was quite positive and we've had a bit of a decline. Payer

Awareness of VPAS remains limited and unchanged since November 2021. However, of the minority aware, most are highly positive about its impact.

Only three in ten HCPs are aware of any medicine price or spending control agreements that the NHS has in place with the pharmaceutical industry, a decline in awareness since 2021. But, awareness of the Voluntary Scheme on Branded Medicine (VPAS) is stable with under three in ten HCPs are aware of it – a level of awareness that has not changed wave on wave.

If the development has come from taxpayers money and the company then reaps the benefit, that shouldn't be allowed - if it's been taxpayers money invested in developing something, and then the company has developed but now they are making the profits and are not giving enough back to the taxpayers and the NHS. Hospital Pharmacist

In a follow up qualitative study, HCPs were again directly asked about their views of medicine pricing and transparency in the UK. They tend to recognise that many medicines, especially new or novel treatments such as immunotherapy, are expensive. The predominant view is that pricing is not unfair, as HCPs appreciate the costs involved in R&D and the need to make a return on the investments involved. However, they are attuned to some of the tensions involved and that the high cost of medicines can be a major issue for healthcare systems under strain, such as the NHS, particularly when tackling rare diseases.

I'm not really sure how the pricing and the budgeting works, but I know when I've asked some of the reps before about the costings, they say they can't give a final cost because it's down to local. I think they have local negotiations about pricing. Nurse prescriber

In this context, although there is an understanding of the development costs of medicines, some question the pricing of ‘copycat’ medicines and suggest lower pricing when public money has supported medicine research and development.

HCPs believe pharmaceutical companies are increasingly transparent; an example of improvements include the availability of information about how one medicine might conflict with another and clinical trial results. HCPs generally trust the UK's rigorous process for licensing and the processes involved to ensure safety and efficacy. However, some HCPs expressed dissatisfaction about unclear pricing dynamics across different hospital trusts.

Generally speaking, I think it's overinflated, but I can understand why. I think especially new drugs, they want to recoup their research development outlay that they've put in, which is big, and the whole drugs are too expensive. GP

Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023