Patients asked how UK can accelerate access to new drugs


A drive to make the UK a world leader in developing new medicines, devices, diagnostics and digital health – and get them to patients faster – is now underway.

Consultation with the life sciences industries, the NHS and health charities has been running since March this year, but now patients, their representatives and the general public are being invited to give their views.

The Accelerated Access Review is the UK's attempt to cut red tape around innovative new treatments and technology, and is being championed by Life Sciences minister George Freeman.

He wants to see a 'lit runway' helping companies with innovative new drugs and devices to speed their products through development, regulatory and market access approval and uptake on the NHS.

Comments can be left on the Review's digital engagement platform, which will go live here, in the next few days.

The digital platform will be open for comment until 4 September, with the wider consultation ending in October.

The chair of the Accelerated Access Review is Sir Hugh Taylor. He said: "The Accelerated Access Review has the potential to make far-reaching recommendations to government about how we can speed up the access to new transformative medicines and medical technologies.

"By listening to patients, the public and professionals, we will be able to gather an in-depth knowledge of how this could be achieved. Patients rightly want to be able to access the most up-to-date, 21st Century healthcare and we are supporting the government's vision of ensuring that our health and care system is one of the best in the world."

Doubts and NHS budget pressure

Despite the laudable boldness of the vision, a number of sceptical voices have been raised about the chances of the Review making an impact.

There are numerous reasons for this scepticism, including the fragmented and complex UK market access system and, especially, the huge pressure on the NHS to reform and make £22 billion in efficiency savings over the next five years.

The Review leaders will have a chance to prove these doubters wrong from December, when the final report is due – but, as always, the real proof will lie in how many of its recommendations become reality over the following years.

Related article

Accelerated Access to innovation on the NHS – can it be achieved?

Linda Banks

15 July, 2015