Tender Loving Care? Purchasing Medicines for Continuing Therapeutic Improvement and Better Health Outcomes

November 2016

Tender Loving Care

The use of 100 per cent price-based tenders for medicines by national procurement authorities has grown substantially over the last decade. Price based tenders deliver cost savings. Yet there is growing concern that a focus on price alone (i.e. so called 100 per cent price based tendering) may in complex therapeutic contexts have a longer term detrimental effect on patient and clinician choice, continued investment in innovation, and supply chain integrity. Recognition of these weaknesses has led to a revised approach to tendering and growing support for the adoption of Most Economically Advantageous Tenders (MEAT).

Against this background, the objective of this brief report is to provide an overview of the changing system for purchasing NHS medicines and allied products in England, and the parts to be played in obtaining good value for money by not only health professionals such as pharmacists and doctors, but experts in procurement working as positively as possible with partners in industry and patient organisations.

It explores why price alone is often only a partial guide to value. Relevant concerns range from variations in the pharmaceutical and/orpharmacological properties of alternative treatments and the benefits they offer individuals through to the extent to which competing companies invest in clinical care improvement and patient support programmes.