New ‘budget impact test’ could delay access to new drugs

Published date: 16 Mar 2017 at 6:01PM

NICE has approved a new affordability test for drugs, which could delay one in five new treatments becoming available on the NHS by up to 3 years.

The decision will be effective from 1 April in England. It will not affect people in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

What does the change mean?

Under the current system, drugs approved as cost effective by NICE are available on the NHS within 3 months.

Under the new test, any treatment thought to cost the NHS more than £20m a year in the first 3 years of it being available, could face delays of as much as 3 years.

During this period the new drug would be made available to some people on the NHS through a phased approach designed by NHS England.

How will this affect MS drugs?

Existing MS drugs will not be affected. But we’re concerned that thousands of people with MS could be delayed in, or prevented from accessing future NICE approved treatments.

We‘re particularly concerned this could affect the first licensed treatments for progressive MS.

What are we doing?

We strongly opposed the proposals earlier this year. We’ve since been working with other health charities to call for changes that ensure people don‘t miss out on new innovative treatments.

Despite our efforts, the impact test is set to come into effect in April. We’ll continue to look for opportunities to make sure people with MS are not affected by these changes.

We need assurances changes won't put people at risk

Genevieve Edwards, our Director of External Affairs, said: 

“A new budget impact test for NICE approved treatments could result in significant delays in access for thousands of people with MS. This is particularly concerning for people with progressive forms of MS, for whom there are currently no available disease modifying treatments.

"While we understand there is a need for NHS England to manage its budget, we want to see assurances that people set to benefit from new treatments are not put at risk by the changes.”

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Page last updated: 16 Mar 2017

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