UK performs poorly on adoption of new drugs, report shows


The UK spends less on medicines, has a lower adoption of new drugs and poorer health outcomes compared to other similar countries, according to a new report.

The King’s Fund report, commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), gives the UK’s NHS a mixed bill of health across a range of outcome measures.

The report compared the UK with 18 similar higher income countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Japan, Singapore and the USA.

While the report shows the UK to have one of the lowest-cost and most efficiently run health systems in the world, it also found that the UK tends to have much poorer health outcomes, coming 16th and 18th respectively for preventable and treatable causes of mortality.

The report also shows that UK spending on medicines is the lowest among its peers, accounting for just 9% of the UK’s overall healthcare spend, compared to Italy 17%, Germany 17% and France 15%.

Although the UK performs reasonably well in speed of approval of new medicines, separate data from the Office for Life Sciences show that the UK has lower adoption of new medicines compared to the average of comparator countries.

One year after a new medicine is launched, for every 100 patients who get it in similar countries, only 58 eligible UK patients get the same treatment. This rises to 81 after five years.

Brian Duggan, Strategic Partnerships Policy Director at the ABPI, commented: “Given the UK’s low spending on medicines and slow adoption of innovative treatments, it is not surprising that patients are missing out and we get poorer outcomes on avoidable mortality and hospital admissions for treatable diseases.

“If the NHS is to successfully prevent and treat disease and deliver the best possible standards of care for patients, better use of medicines must be part of the strategy.”

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