The U.K. government is moving into the next phase of creating a value-based system for pricing branded medicines that tries to bring into balance what have been mutually exclusive goals: cost control and improved patient access to drugs.

Depending on how value is defined and measured, the result could be exactly the opposite of what the government intends. Conceivably, valued-based prices could end up lower than U.K. drug prices are now, which could reduce the country's attractiveness as a place to do R&D and early product launches, which in turn would have a detrimental effect on patient access to medicines.