New drugs to face affordability test

Proposed changes to the UK’s drug approval process should be the subject of an honest debate according the country’s Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The changes will mean the National Health Service (NHS) in England will assess how much it can afford to pay for new drugs.

Under the plan, new drugs that are expected to cost the NHS more than £20 million a year would be subject to a ‘budget impact test’.

If drugs are considered to be cost effective by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)  but expensive for NHS England’s budget, they could face delays or restrictions on being introduced. To me, this seems to turning the clock back on health care by several years.

Pic: MS Society.

Pic: MS Society.

Based on what is so far known about the plans now, the MS Society believe it’s unlikely that existing MS treatments available on the NHS would be affected by these changes. However, it wants to make sure that any new MS treatments aren’t rationed or restricted due to their cost.

On the society’s website, it says that an affordability test would be a big change in the way new treatments are assessed. It continues: “Currently, new drugs are tested for value for money. This means the potential benefits of a new drug are considered in relation to its cost. How much the NHS can afford to pay for the drug is not tested.”

The society’s assistant director of external affairs Ian Fannon at the said: “People with MS need access to effective treatments as quickly as possible – this is essential to managing the condition, slowing progression and improving quality of life. Not only does this prevent avoidable harm, it reduces cost for the NHS in the long term.

“We do understand the NHS is under financial pressure but the case for increasing investment in the NHS grows stronger by the day. Ever tightening rationing could have serious consequences for those who could benefit from new treatments. We need an honest debate about this.

“Equally, this poses a challenge to the pharmaceutical industry to ensure the price they offer the NHS for their drugs is fair and reasonable.

“We need to examine the details of these proposals more closely and will be responding in full to the consultation.”

new strap

ian is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

One thought on “New drugs to face affordability test

  1. I agree, “managing the condition, slowing progression and improving quality of life” is very important, but shouldn’t the focus be looking for a cure and not profiteering


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