The NHS has announced its 10-year plan; the scheme predicts an increase in healthcare funding and wants to tackle surplus spending with a spending efficiency framework. Any budget increase and saving due to this framework will be reinvested into the NHS to better equip the service to deal with an ageing population, higher demands on A&E services and tackling health inequality[i]. As part of cost cutting measures, the NHS has ambitiously targeted savings of £700 million from 2018 to 2021 through switching to lower cost medicines. This has already been partly achieved by switching to lower cost biosimilars and better value generics.
One key area that has been targeted is antibody therapies. For example, £400 million a year is spent on Adalimumab (Humira). This is an expensive monoclonal antibody used as an immunosuppressant in conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Crohn’s Disease.[ii] Adalimumab lost its patent status at the end of 2018, meaning the NHS could switch to a biosimilar. This would mean that a drug could be used with the same efficacy and safety as Humira, but with costs of £110 million less to the taxpayer each year. Other high cost antibody therapies such as Rituximab and Infliximab have also been substituted for better value biosimilars to bring a total of £294 million savings for 2018/19.[iii]
[i] Plan, N. (2019). Overview and summary. [online] NHS Long Term Plan. Available at: https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/online-version/overview-and-summary/ [Accessed 8 Oct. 2019].
[ii] Drugs.com. (2019). Adalimumab Monograph for Professionals - Drugs.com. [online] Available at: https://www.drugs.com/monograph/adalimumab.html [Accessed 8 Oct. 2019].
[iii] England, N. (2019). NHS England » NHS cuts medicines costs by three quarters of a billion pounds. [online] England.nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2019/08/nhs-cuts-medicines-costs-by-three-quarters-of-a-billion-pounds/ [Accessed 8 Oct. 2019].