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Therapeutic interventions

Patients to get quicker access to five 'transformative' medical products each year

Medicines regulators including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency will collaborate with doctors and patients to choose which technologies to accelerate.

Patients will get speedier access to drugs and medical technologies thanks to a new “streamlined and sophisticated” approvals system for a select few products each year, the government has announced.

Announcing its response to the independently-chaired ‘Accelerated access review’ (AAR), published in 2016, the government accepted all its recommendations and said it will create an Accelerated Access Pathway to get “strategically important, cost-effective products into the NHS as rapidly as possible within NHS resource constraints”.

From April 2018, roughly five “transformative” products will receive “breakthrough product designation” and be put onto the new pathway. Each product will be developed through “bespoke case management” and the government said it expects industry to “come forward with a cost proposition that delivers additional value for patients and the NHS beyond that achieved under the current system, and is affordable”.

An Accelerated Access Collaborative, which will include the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), NHS England, NHS Improvement and the government, as well as representatives of clinicans, patients and industry, will identify the products to pass through the new pathway.

Former GlaxoSmithKline chief executive, Andrew Witty, will lead the collaborative, with other members due to be announced before the end of the year.

A new Strategic Commercial Unit will also be created within NHS England to negotiate cost-effective deals with pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The ABPI said in a statement that the government’s adoption of the AAR’s recommendations would deliver “significant long-term savings” for the NHS if “appropriate investment” in the new therapies was made available.

“Over the next decade, breakthrough personalised therapies have the potential to transform treatment for many diseases, from cancers to diabetes to dementia,” he said.

“It is incumbent on everyone to tear down the barriers which have prevented access to medical progress of this kind.

“Sir Andrew Witty’s extensive pharmaceutical industry leadership and experience will be vital in helping to deliver a system which prioritises patient access to transformative treatments”.

Managing Director of MSD, the UK trading name for Merck, Louise Houson, welcomed the government’s acceptance of the AAR’s recommendations, but warned: “Of course, since the publication of the AAR in October 2016 there have been further significant developments, namely the publication of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy (LSIS). In light of the UK’s exit from the EU, it is vital that the AAR works in tandem with the LSIS to create a vibrant life sciences sector in the UK in which patients have early access to innovative medicines and care.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203873

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