The criteria used by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for accepting higher incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for some medicines over others, and the recent introduction of the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) in England, are assumed to reflect societal preferences for National Health Service resource allocation. Robust empirical evidence to this effect is lacking. To explore societal preferences for these and other criteria, including those proposed for rewarding new medicines under the future value-based pricing (VBP) system, we conducted a choice-based experiment in 4118 UK adults via web-based surveys. Preferences were determined by asking respondents to allocate fixed funds between different patient and disease types reflecting nine specific prioritisation criteria. Respondents supported the criteria proposed under the VBP system (for severe diseases, address unmet needs, are innovative—provided they offered substantial health benefits, and have wider societal benefits) but did not support the end-of-life premium or the prioritisation of children or disadvantaged populations as specified by NICE, nor the special funding status for treatments of rare diseases, nor the CDF. Policies introduced on the basis of perceived—and not actual—societal values may lead to inappropriate resource allocation decisions with the potential for significant population health and economic consequences. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.