New NHS drug fund will fast track access to breakthrough treatments

New pot of ringfenced money with the NHS will help thousands of patients get treatment for rare conditions

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Wednesday 21 July 2021 07:24
<p>A new drugs fund will give more patients access to medicines not yet available in the UK</p>

A new drugs fund will give more patients access to medicines not yet available in the UK

A new drugs fund worth £340 million will be used by the NHS to fast track patients with rare diseases so they can get new medicine and treatments yet to be approved.

NHS England has confirmed it intends to set up an Innovative Medicines Fund, which was a manifesto pledge by the Conservatives in 2019, to run alongside the existing Cancer Drugs Fund, making a combined total of £680 million.

The money will be used to give patients access to treatments like gene therapy and medications where its thought they will benefit patients but have yet to meet the requirements for routine use in the NHS.

It will open up the possibility of new treatments for many more patients with rare diseases other than cancer.

The Cancer Drugs Fund was created in 2010 by the then coalition government to fund drugs thought to be too expensive for the NHS. It has proven controversial and been criticised as an inefficient way to allocate NHS money in a way that delivers the greatest benefit.

NHS England said the CDF will be guaranteed its funding separately to the new pot making a combined total of £680 million of ringfenced money.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The NHS long term plan is leading to fast track access for innovative, cutting-edge therapies, at the same time as the NHS has also been treating more than 400,000 Covid hospitalised patients, and delivering the fastest and largest vaccination campaign in our history.

“In the last year NHS England has successfully negotiated deals for a range of new treatments, including drugs which may allow toddlers with spinal muscular atrophy the chance to walk thanks to the ‘world’s most expensive drug’, as well as giving cystic fibrosis patients the latest medicines against their debilitating disease. This new fund will build on these successes, offering hope to even more patients.”

There will be a consultation on the new fund which will work similarly to the cancer fund. Giving access to treatments while more data is collected and to make sure their cost and longer term use is good value for the NHS.

In the past five years the Cancer Drugs Fund has provided treatments for more than 64,000 people which might otherwise not have been available for years.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said “The Innovative Medicines Fund is another example of the government delivering on its manifesto commitments, and it will significantly reduce the time it takes for the most promising new medicines to reach patients, including children and those with rare diseases, saving lives and giving many people hope for a healthier future.

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