UK government revamps efforts to hasten access to new drugs
The UK government has announced a major revamp of its efforts to get innovative new medicines and therapies through clinical development and to the market.
At today’s Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) conference in London, junior health minister Nicola Blackwood announced the plans to upgrade the Accelerated Access Collaborative, which aims to champion development of novel medicines and therapies.
The government set up the AAC, consisting of experts from industry and the NHS, to speed up the time it takes for patients to benefit from ground-breaking therapies for conditions such as cancer, dementia, and diabetes.
Under plans announced today, the AAC will become the new umbrella organisation for UK health innovation.
It will act as the ‘front door’ for innovators looking to get their products funded by the NHS and will provide support to overcome barriers that can prevent the best medical innovations from reaching patients.
Led by chief executive Dr Sam Roberts, the AAC will implement a system to identify the best new innovations and make sure the NHS is ready to make use of them.
The AAC will also signal the needs of clinicians and patients, so innovators know which problems they need to solve.
It also aims to revamp the UK’s testing infrastructure so innovators can generate evidence needed to get products to the NHS.
A health innovation funding strategy will focus public money on the areas of greatest impact for the NHS and patients.
Finally it will support the NHS to more quickly adopt clinically and cost-effective innovations – something that industry has long been campaigning for.
The AAC has already selected and supported 12 ‘rapid uptake products’ to increase their use within the NHS. This includes a blood test for pre-eclampsia, which can diagnose the condition earlier in pregnancy and significantly reduce life-threatening complications.
Blackwood, who herself has been diagnosed with the rare disease Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome (EDS), said: “I want the NHS to be at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments and medical innovations – but often it can take too long for products to get from the bench to the bedside.”
Tim Sheppard, SVP & general manager, Northern Europe at IQVIA, said that urgent action should be taken to ensure that the UK makes the most of its position as a world leader in life sciences amid the uncertainty of Brexit.
Industry could decide to conduct clinical trials elsewhere unless the country begins to readily use new drugs more often.
He said: “We are at a tipping point where the decision we make decides whether we will be a world leader or poor relation.”
The conference also heard a passionate speech from Emily Travis, editorial director at medical communications firm 7.4 Limited, who is also being treated for the cancer leiomyosarcoma.
In her speech she called for cancer care in the UK to become more “joined up”, with better information about patients and their diseases shared among healthcare professionals to improve care standards.
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