(Reuters) – Pharmaceutical companies AbbVie and Eli Lilly have withdrawn from Britain’s voluntary medicines pricing agreement, an industry body said on Monday.

Companies are increasingly arguing that it is no longer possible to justify the UK’s “voluntary scheme” to global boardrooms and investors as repayment rates in 2023 have surged to 26.5% of revenue, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said in a statement.

“The current scheme has harmed innovation, with costs spiralling out of control, and the UK falling behind other major countries to be left as a global outlier,” said Laura Steele, president and general manager for Eli Lilly’s Northern Europe division.

ABPI said it was seeking early talks with the government to set out a new future settlement.

In December, the industry body had said the government raised the amount manufacturers of branded medicines within the voluntary scheme will be required to return to almost 3.3 billion pounds ($4.02 billion) in sales revenue from an earlier amount of 1.8 billion pounds.

The demand from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and use of new medicines to treat patients have grown faster than the industry’s pre-pandemic projections, which has driven repayment rates far beyond sustainable levels, ABPI added.

The current voluntary scheme, which will end in Decmeber, is an agreement between the British government and the pharmaceutical industry with roots going back to the foundation of the NHS, ABPI said.

($1 = 0.8213 pounds)

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Rashmi Aich)

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