Offering a nationally available discount has become common to increase the chance of being recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). This study reviewed all NICE technology appraisals (TAs) since October 2007 to determine whether a national available discount was submitted, and explore when these discounts were introduced.
All TAs between October 2007 and August 2017 were reviewed. The timing of the nationally available discount submission was allocated into one of four categories: initially submitted; initially submitted but changed; introduced after submission; or, other discount. An analysis was conducted to examine whether there was a temporal pattern in the introduction of nationally available discounts before or after January 2014, when the current Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) came into effect.
Before 1 January 2014, a nationally available discount was only used in the minority of cases across recommended (22 percent of cases) and not recommended (19 percent) technologies. In the period since 1 January 2014, use of a nationally available discount increased overall, but to a greater degree in technologies ultimately receiving a positive recommendation from NICE (not recommended: 19 percent to 39 percent; recommended: 22 percent to 59 percent). In the period since 1 January 2014, the proportion of technologies with a positive recommendation where implicit price flexibility during the appraisal was revealed increased (from 20/186) to 40/182.
With the current PPRS, the majority of technologies have offered a nationally available discount, most commonly at the time of submission; however, there is increasing evidence of implicit price flexibility during the appraisal process to achieve a positive recommendation.