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UK industry launches 'manifesto' to speed uptake of new medicines

Published on 02/11/06 at 04:17pm

Pharmaceutical industry organisation, the ABPI, has launched a new campaign to increase the uptake of new medicines in the UK, which is currently one of the slowest in Europe.

It says patients are being "short-changed" by the use of medicines on the NHS, which often does not make new medicines available, even when they have been approved by NICE.

New figures produced by the ABPI show that five years after their launch, major cancer medicines are still being prescribed at under two-thirds the rate of other comparable  countries. Meanwhile diabetes medicines were prescribed at under half the rate; and dementia medicines at about one-third.

The ABPI is now re-doubling its efforts to see the long-standing situation change, and its leaders are working with the Department of Health to understand why doctors are slow to prescribe new drugs.

The ABPI has launched a new 'manifesto' entitled The Right Medicine, The Right Patient, The Right Time, and hopes it will help bring about real progress.

Nigel Brooksby, President of the ABPI and managing director of Sanofi-Aventis UK, one of the country's biggest pharma companies said: "There is a serious 'short-changing' of British patients.  

"Healthcare and medicines are all about patients, and in the UK, they are not getting modern medicines as quickly as they should, and often not getting them even when  NICE  has  said  they  should."

He added that the new manifesto made clear the industry's determination to work towards fairness in  prescribing and ending the'postcode lottery' in medicines.

The ABPI says it would be happy to see the UK rise even a few places up the European league table.

Industry leaders are quick to point out that the overall NHS medicines bill is not the reason for the slow uptake - an enforced price cut in 2005 saw the health services overall spending on drugs fall by just under 4% last year.

They say prices are expected to drop in real terms, and the increase to the budget caused by new products will be small. This conflicts with the views of NHS managers, who say paying for expensive new medicines will mean tough rationing decisions will have to be made.

Nigel Brooksby says the industry acknowledges that the NHS budget is finite, but claims denying patients medicines is not the solution.

"We must stop the iniquity whereby people are denied the medicines they need until their condition has deteriorated.  There must be a better way - including the correct use of cost-effective medicines so that they become part of the answer to financial constraints, not part of the problem."

UK industry leaders are working with health ministers and civil servants in the Ministerial Industry Strategy Group (MISG) on a several key areas, including uptake of new medicines. The group has commissioned a number of studies into why the UK lags behind other countries, with the conclusions expected before the end of 2006.



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