The UK’s Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has, together with the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), published the new Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry (the 2021 Code).  Publication of the 2021 Code follows a consultation conducted in 2020, with subsequent revisions prior to approval on 12 January 2021.

The 2021 Code will be implemented from 1 July 2021  and represents a significant structural revision of the current 2019 Code. It is described as the most extensive revision to the Code in over 30 years. There is no transition period for the new arrangements after 1 July 2021, other than for medical and educational goods and services (MEGS). The supplementary information to Clauses 20 and 23 sets out a 6 month period (until 31 December 2021) during which ongoing MEGS, provided under Clause 19 of the 2019 Code, may continue without the need to be reclassified as either a donation or collaborative working and comply with any new requirements as a result of this change.

Some of the key changes introduced through the  2021 Code are summarised below.
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The UK Government (Department of Health and Social Care, DHSC) and the ABPI have announced today that they have agreed the Heads of Agreement for what will now be called a Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access, expected to become effective from 1st January 2019 following the end of the current 2014 Pharmaceutical Pricing Regulation Scheme (PPRS”).

The details of the new Voluntary Scheme are still being finalised and, if agreed in full, will be published in December, at around the same time as publication of the new Statutory Scheme is expected to take place. Companies will then be asked to decide whether to agree to participate in the Voluntary Scheme or be subject to the Statutory Scheme.

The new Voluntary Scheme, which has been described as “a good deal for patients, the NHS and the UK life science industry” by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, provides a guarantee that growth of the NHS branded medicines bill will not exceed 2% per year for the next 5 years, delivering expected savings of around £930 million to the NHS in 2019. In assessing growth sales by Voluntary Scheme members, Statutory Scheme companies and parallel import sales will be taken into account. As under the 2014 PPRS, the new Scheme will require industry to make rebate payments in respect of expenditure by the NHS that exceeds the permitted growth. Other important aspects are said to be:

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