Pharma warns new NICE rules will delay access to meds


Pharma companies are warning that changes to the way the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) and NHS England (NHSE) assess new medicines, which came into affect on April 1, will hinder patient access to the latest treatments.

In a survey of member companies of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), 71 percent said they believe that the new system will see their companies prioritise the launch of new medicines in European countries over the UK, while 89 percent said patient access to cost-effective medicines in the UK will decrease as a result.

Under the new framework, any new medicines found to be cost effective by NICE but likely to overshoot a budget impact limit of £20 million in any year within the first three years of use will be subject to a second process for price negotiation before they can be made available on the NHS.

NICE also announced that rare disease treatments deemed to provide significant QALY benefits will be assessed by its Highly Specialised Technologies (HST) committee against a maximum threshold of £300,000 per QALY.

Health bosses argue that the new measures will “significantly speed up access for the most promising and cost effective new technologies”, but no pharmaceutical company taking part in the survey said they believed either the Budget Impact Test or changes to the HST programme would increase access to new cost effective medicines.

The UK is already performing well under par on the uptake of new medicines compared to its peers: according to government data, 17 NHS patients would typically be on NICE-recommended medicines in the first year, compared to 100 patients in countries such as France, Spain and Germany, and it takes the UK five years to reach half the level of medicines being used in Europe.

To read the full article by Selina McKee go to Pharma Times