Scheme published to fast-track access to crucial medicines

CREDIT: This story was first seen in OnMedica

A former Big Pharma boss has been appointed to lead a government scheme to fast-track access to life-changing medicines, OnMedica reports.

Former GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) head, Andrew Witty, is to lead the new Accelerated Access Pathway scheme, which, from April 2018, will speed up access to drugs or devices selected by a panel of experts.

The new Accelerated Access Pathway should make some drugs available up to four years faster than at present by reducing the time taken to negotiate financial approvals needed for their use on the NHS.

The plans include financial support for companies to help them develop treatments more quickly. The government has announced some £86 million in funding, of which £35 million will go to small and medium-sized firms, and £39 million to encourage take-up of new medical technologies.

Some £6 million will go towards supporting the development of pharmaceutical and diagnostic products, and £6 million towards supporting clinicians in using the new treatments and technologies.

In exchange, pharmaceutical companies will be expected to deliver “additional value for the taxpayer”, with a new commercial unit being created within NHS England to help negotiate cost-effective deals.

Andrew Witty will lead the group responsible for selecting the products granted breakthrough status.

Today’s announcement follows last year’s final report from the independently chaired Accelerated Access Review (AAR), briefed with making the UK, “the fastest place in the world for the design, development and widespread adoption of medical innovations”.

Commenting, Dr Richard Torbett, executive director of commercial policy at The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: “The government’s commitment to speeding up access to the most innovative medicines and treatments is very much welcome.

“This should benefit thousands of NHS patients as well as delivering significant long-term savings for the health service if appropriate investment in these transformative therapies is made available.

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“Over the next decade, breakthrough personalised therapies have the potential to transform treatment for many diseases, from cancers to diabetes to dementia. It is incumbent on everyone to tear down the barriers which have prevented access to medical progress of this kind.”

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