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UK government announces £86 million funding as tentative AAR step

Published on 14/07/17 at 03:12pm

The UK government has revealed that it will apportion £86 million to help the assessment of new technologies and increase uptake, as well as funding provide to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in testing new medicines and devices.

The move comes as part of the Accelerated Access Review, which proposed radical changes to potentially speed up the process of drug approval by as much as four years. This latest step follows some of the recommendations in the full report without delivering on the larger proposals.

This is why the reaction has been largely muted so far from the industry, as, though the changes are not unwelcome, they do not deliver on the more difficult to implement challenges of increasing partnerships between NHS England, NICE and the MHRA. There is no mention, for instance, of the possibility of using early access to medicine scheme decisions to speed approval of drugs previously having gone through this process.

The funding has been broken down into distinct four packages: £39 million of funding to the Academic Health Science Networks (ASHNs); £35 million Digital Health Technology Catalyst for innovators; up to £6 million over the next 3 years to help SMES; £6 million Pathway Transformation Fund, which will help NHS organisations integrate new technologies into everyday practices.

The ABPI’s response clearly welcomed the announcement, but stressed that this should be seen as the beginning rather than end of implementation of the ideas proposed in AAR: “Academic Health Science Network’s are a critical delivery partner for bringing the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) to life, and £39 million of investment is an important first step in pulling industry and the health service together to realise the Review’s ambition. Turning the rest of the AAR’s recommendations into reality now relies on a full, positive Government response to the Review – and an effective Life Sciences Industrial Strategy. If we get this right, fostering greater collaboration between innovators, patients, NICE and the NHS can make the UK the world leading hub for Life Sciences.”

The news of the increased funding into improving access to new medicines comes as the news that the NHS has been ranked as the number one health system in comparison with 11 other countries.

It scored well on safety, affordability and efficiency but, crucially, it struggled when it came to preventing early death and cancer survival. Critics will argue that these negatives stem from the slow pace at which new drugs are reviewed and approved in the UK.

Ben Hargreaves

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