NHS England, the UK’s publicly funded healthcare system, will be introducing a £340m fund dedicated to new innovative medicines. The aim of the fund is to support patient access to life-saving therapies as early as possible.
Whilst the fund is still out for consultation, the current intention is to fast-track patient access to treatments that:
“demonstrate substantial clinical promise but still have significant uncertainty around their clinical and cost effectiveness and hence long term value for taxpayers.” –NHS England
It is estimated that one in 17 people will be affected by a rare disease in their lifetime. Trials for rare disease drugs often take longer due to smaller patient cohorts, which can delay patient access to such medicines. The fund will help to prevent this and provide access to often costly medicines, such as gene therapies, whilst the additional data is collected to “ensure (the treatment’s) pricing and long term use represents good value for the NHS overall”.
The Innovative Medicines Fund (IMF) comes in addition to NHS’ £340m Cancer Drugs Fund that was established in 2010. The Cancer Drug Fund has played a key role in enabling access to cutting-edge medicines for countless patients, 64,000 in the last 5 years alone. It is hoped that the IMF will do the same for those impacted by diseases outside of the realm of oncology, and help to establish the UK as a key market for innovative health technologies.
“Accessing treatments earlier can improve outcomes for patients and, as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS England’s Commercial Medicines Directorate has used its commercial capabilities to secure access to several innovative medicines for NHS patients, including many ‘world-first’ or ‘first in Europe’ drug deals.” –NHS England