Earlier Access to New Therapies in the NHS

Earlier Access to New Therapies in the NHS

PATIENTS TO GET BREAKTHROUGH TECHNOLOGIES AND TREATMENTS UP TO FOUR YEARS EARLIER THROUGH NEW ACCELERATED ACCESS SCHEME

Does this mean earlier access? – A new, fast-track route into the NHS for “breakthrough” medicines and technologies has been announced by the Government in a bid to dramatically speed up the time it takes for patients to benefit from ground-breaking products for conditions such as cancer, dementia and diabetes.

From April 2018, the new Accelerated Access Pathway will mean selected products with the greatest potential to change lives could be available up to four years earlier by reducing the time taken to negotiate the evaluation and financial approvals necessary before the NHS can purchase them.

Under the scheme, each year a number of products would receive “breakthrough” designation, unlocking a comprehensive package of support that will allow firms to accelerate clinical development and benefit from a fast-track route through the NHS’s approval processes.

Health Minister, Lord O’Shaughnessy, said:

“I want the UK to be the best place in the world to develop new drugs and medical technology – but despite the innovation happening here, our uptake in the NHS can be too slow.

“Today’s new measures will not only benefit patients by improving how quickly and easily we can get innovative products from the lab to the bedside, but will guarantee future collaboration between the life sciences sector and the NHS post-Brexit – benefiting the British economy and creating jobs.”

Sir Andrew Witty, former chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline will lead the Accelerated Access Collaborative, which will make decisions on which products should be granted access to the pathway, drawing on advice from patients, clinicians and industry.

In return, life sciences firms will be expected to deliver additional value for the taxpayer, with a new Strategic Commercial Unit being created within NHS England to help negotiate cost effective deals with innovators.

Sir Andrew Witty, Chair of the Accelerated Access Collaborative, said:

“Patients, scientists and the UK economy will all benefit from the positive steps outlined by the government today.

“The opportunity to ensure the NHS gets rapid access to cost effective breakthrough technologies is vitally important, and I’m delighted to help lead the effort to deliver this.”

UK Bio Industry Association CEO, Steve Bates, said:

“This new fast track pathway should both speed up access for NHS patients to the latest therapies and help to ensure the UK remains a globally attractive cluster in which to start, scale and grow leading life sciences businesses.

“Sir Andrew Witty’s leadership of the Accelerated Access Collaborative means significant industrial insight into the selection process for products able to access this new accelerated route to market.”

The Government is also providing an £86 million funding package to help innovators of all sizes to access the NHS market, and help ensure that these products get to the patients that need them.

This includes:

  • More support for small and medium-sized enterprises to help them build a stronger evidence base for their products, with £35 million over four years to help SMEs with digital products, and a £6 million scheme to support medtech, diagnostics and pharmaceutical products.
  • £6 million to support clinicians to use new treatments and technologies in everyday practice.
  • £39m to encourage grassroots adoption and uptake of new medical technologies, driven by 15 Academic Health Science Networks which are responsible for identifying high potential products, supporting their adoption regionally and sharing lessons across the wider NHS.

A Full Press release by the UK Government in response to the Accelerated Access Review can be found here

The Pumping Marvellous Foundation response

So does this mean earlier access to the latest therapies?

Earlier access through the new Accelerated Access Scheme to innovative therapies seems to demonstrate  a firm commitment to better patient access with the extension of the medical score card system now including medical technologies which is an important area of progressive treatments for people with heart failure.

The area of concern and where this may just be a big sound bite is that it seems –

  • Light on detail
  • Reimbursement models and incentives are not clear
  • How will the Accelerated Access Scheme interact with everyday life in the health system especially with the remodelling throughout the system

These are fundamental questions that need to be answered before the scheme becomes real.