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New details of Innovative Medicines review disclosed

Published on 11/03/15 at 10:32am
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The government says that the review will look at ways to accelerate the time it takes to develop a new drug

The government has announced details of a sweeping review into how medicines are accessed in the UK.

The Innovative Medicines and Medical Technology Review aims to improve the speed at which innovations such as precision medicines, digital devices, apps, diagnostics and new therapeutic technologies get to patients.

“The UK lags behind comparable countries when it comes to patients seeing the benefits of new medicines,” says Alison Clough, the ABPI’s executive director commercial UK. “Improving patient access to new medicines in the country would not only save and enhance patients’ lives but also unlock the value of the life sciences sector, making the UK a powerhouse for innovation.”

The government says that the review will look at ways to accelerate the time it takes to develop a new drug, which it notes currently takes on average over a decade and can cost £1 billion (figures often disputed).

This will include considering how NICE’s processes can be sped up, as well as how assessments for drug reimbursement can better reflect technological advances in genomics; precision medicine and informatics; take time and risk out of the traditional R&D model; and better exploit the potential of the UK’s integrated healthcare system.

It notes however, that the review will not change the current PPRS agreement – although it may consider how ‘existing flexibilities’ could be used to overcome barriers.

Clough adds: “We hope that this announcement will represent an important step forward in improving access to modern medicines for the right patient, at the right time. By joining up across development, regulation, pricing, value assessment and medicines usage this review has the potential to create a reformed health system fit for the 21st century. 

“In order to achieve this, it is essential that the review considers NICE’s role and its alignment with NHS England, with changes made to the way NICE evaluates new medicines.”

Leading the review

It has also been announced that the review will be led by Sir Hugh Taylor, chair Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. He will be supported by an advisory group headed by Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University.

“NHS patients and their families deserve the quickest access possible to cost-effective new medical innovations,” says Sir Hugh, “so it is a real privilege to be asked to lead this important review.

“By looking across the whole healthcare system I hope that we will be able to identify ways in which the latest advances in medicines and technologies can get from the lab to patients as quickly and safely as possible.”

Speaking to Pharmafile about the review last year, life sciences minister George Freeman said: “This is an open ended review in which we are asking the question, what does the UK landscape for earlier adoption of innovative medicines and digitalised and personalised devices need to look like? 

“That pull through of quicker access through to patients to prove and validate innovations of both drugs and companion diagnostic is the central challenge, that’s where we have got to really focus in this next phase.”

The review is set to be published this summer.

George Underwood

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