NHS to get breakthrough technologies quicker, promises DoH

Government wants the UK to be the best place in the world to develop new drugs and medical technology – especially post-Brexit, says the Health Minister

Posted 7 November 2017 at 8:56am by

The Department of Health (DoH) says it’s putting processes in place to speed up the pace at which the NHS can access new drugs and medical tech via its new so-say ‘Accelerated Access Collaborative’.

The promise, made on its website at the end of last week and in response to previous dialogue with the market, centres on a new fast-track route so patients can benefit from ground-breaking products for conditions such as cancer, dementia and diabetes up to four years earlier than currently.

A number of products each year will receive ‘breakthrough’ designation, says the DoH, thus unlocking a package of support allowing firms to accelerate clinical development and gain a fast-track route through the NHS’s approval processes.

Plus, £86m worth of funding to help innovators of all sizes gain access to the NHS market has been promised, including £35m over four years for digital products, and £6m for medtech, diagnostics and pharmaceutical products.

There’s also going to be £6m set aside to support clinicians to use new treatments and technologies in everyday practice, and £39m to encourage grassroots adoption and uptake of new medical technologies.

“I want the UK to be the best place in the world to develop new drugs and medical technology,” said Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy.

“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,” he added.

Sir Andrew Witty, former chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, will lead the new body, which will highlight 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, says the government – with a new Strategic Commercial Unit being created within NHS England to negotiate cost effective deals.

“The opportunity to ensure the NHS gets rapid access to cost effective breakthrough technologies is vitally important,” claimed Witty.