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Industry lobbies ministers ahead of OFT decision

Published on 01/05/07 at 11:58am

The UK pharmaceutical industry is using a series of meetings with government ministers to push for a rejection of the OFT report on medicines prices.

Industry association the ABPI has made it clear that it opposes the reforms put forward by competition watchdog the Office of Fair Trading, which involves scrapping the current PPRS pricing system.

Last week, health secretary Patricia Hewitt and health minister Lord Hunt met the ABPI leaders as part of extensive negotiations ahead of a government decision expected in June.

Gordon Brown's treasury department is also heavily involved in discussions, as is the Department of Trade and Industry, which is responsible for delivering the final decision.

Addressing the annual ABPI dinner last week, health minister Lord Hunt revealed he had also recently toured the boardrooms of the top pharmaceutical companies in the US, and had discussed the OFT report, NICE and other key UK market issues.

Hunt stressed that no decisions had been made on the OFT report, but pledged to keep working in collaboration with the industry.

These comments, added to hints from Blair in March, make it highly unlikely the OFT report will be accepted in its present form  but the terms of any compromise deal remain far from clear.

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