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UK to unveil new scheme to curb drug prices -sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Department of Health will unveil a new five-year scheme on Wednesday to curb prescription drug prices and ensure the state healthcare system gets good value for money, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The latest version of the so-called pharmaceutical price regulation scheme, or PPRS, will require that drugmakers accept a rebate system that reduces the cost of branded medicines to the National Health Service by close to 4 percent in 2014.

Prices will then be held flat in 2015 and allowed to rise very modestly in the last three years, the sources added.

Governments across Europe have been taking a tough line on drug costs as stagnant economic growth hits their healthcare budgets.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats agreed on Monday to maintain a similar tight rein on prescription drug costs via legally mandated price discounts.

The new deal struck between the British government and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) follows several months of tough negotiations during which the ABPI argued that medicine prices in Britain are already among the lowest in Europe.

The ABPI represents British companies such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc and AstraZeneca Plc, as well as the UK units of multinationals such as Pfizer Inc and Novartis AG.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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