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New drugs to face NHS affordability test

Proposed changes to the drug approval process mean NHS England will assess how much they 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 but expensive for NHS England’s budget, they could face delays or restrictions on being introduced.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and NHS England is carrying out a consultation on the planned test, with proposed changes to come into effect in April 2017.

Will this affect MS drugs?

Based on what we know about the plans now, we believe it’s unlikely that existing MS treatments available on the NHS would be affected by these changes.

However we want to make sure that any new MS treatments aren’t rationed or restricted due to their cost.

How is this system different?

An affordability test would be a big change in the way new treatments are assessed.

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.

Treat me right

Ian Fannon, Assistant Director of External Affairs at the MS Society 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.”

An honest debate

"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."

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