Patients must get quicker access to new innovative medicines – Chris Green MP
Abbvie's new research highlights a significant challenge in that it can still take longer for patients in England to receive these treatments than in other European countries, says Chris Green MP. Credit: Paul Heartfield.
Government reforms on access to medicines are a step in the right direction but more needs to be done to improve the system to ensure patients get quicker access to new innovative medicines says Chris Green MP.
In recent decades our scientific understanding has improved, leading to the development of ever more sophisticated treatments for a range of conditions helping people live longer with a better quality of life. Consider the examples of HIV and AIDS, and Hepatitis C where major advances have been made resulting in patients being cured of once life-threatening conditions. However, the subsequent challenge for Government and NHS England is how to create policy that keeps pace with these advances and ensure a system that both delivers these innovations to patients quickly and maximises value from the £16 billion spent annually on medicines.
I’m delighted to be launching new research commissioned by AbbVie which encouragingly shows that a high number of innovative medicines are being made available patients. However, the research also highlights a significant challenge in that it can still take longer for patients in England to receive these treatments than in other European countries.
It is clear that though the scientific advances have unlocked new opportunities for more targeted and personalised therapies, this has resulted in smaller patient populations making data collection more challenging. In its current form the processes have not caught up to these development and are no longer able to assess adequately the value to patients and the NHS of these new treatments which have greater data uncertainty.
One positive development is that the Government recognises this issue and is already taking forward significant reforms with an ambition to create a seamless pathway from regulation through to routine patient access for innovative medicines. 2020 is a year of significant reform with the introduction of the Innovative Medicines Fund, publication of NHS England’s Commercial Framework and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Methods Review. These positive developments have the potential to create a real and lasting change helping a greater number of patients live longer.
However, these reforms alone will not solve the problem and there is also a need for change from those outside Government. The pharmaceutical industry must do more whether by modernising their approach by, for example, improving clinical development programmes and engaging authorities to develop clinical studies that address their needs.
Last year I had the honour of chairing an expert group of stakeholders which examined the Bridging the Gap research and discussed possible solutions. I am delighted to be launching the final report today which has a number of recommendations including:
- A wider variety of real-world data should be collected about the effectiveness of medicines, from large scale “big data” to smaller data sets for rarer conditions. This information should be used in the Health Technology Appraisal (HTA) and reimbursement process – where appropriate, supporting a “managed access” system as already seen in the Cancer Drugs Fund.
- Differential pricing by disease approaches, including multi-indication pricing and outcomes-based pricing, should be more widely adopted by NHS England and NICE.
- Life science companies should commit to engaging with NICE and NHS England about potential access challenges as far in advance as possible, in particular working with NICE’s Office for Market Access.
- Ministers with responsibility for life sciences should continue to drive forward the debate on access reform and engage with patients and other stakeholders on developments in access policy.
This country is rightly proud of its leadership in the scientific discoveries that have enabled the development of ever more personalised medicines. As these scientific advances are applied to smaller patient populations and previously untreated diseases the challenge described here will become more acute if we do not enhance our system readiness. As we strive to remain a pioneer in life sciences, we must match this with equal ambition to ensure patients in England can also benefit from these innovative medicines as quickly as their European neighbours.
This article has been funded by AbbVie.
Date of preparation: March 2020
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