Welsh government launches £80 million fund for newly approved drugs

pharmafile | January 13, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications Wales, Welsh Government, drug fund 

The Welsh Government has created a five-year £80 million drug fund, which will work out to an additional £16 million per year to fund newly approved drugs. The Welsh government has stated it expects health boards to make medicines recommended by NICE available to patients within two months of approval. This move will see potential waiting time on access to new drugs cut by eight weeks over the current process.

The current process means that medicines recommended by NICE cannot be made available until after the final Technology Appraisal guidance, coming after the appeal process. The change will see medication become available within two months after final guidance is published.

The Welsh government were bullish on the benefits of the change to the system, with Vaughan Gething, Welsh cabinet secretary for health, well-being and sport, saying “Our new treatment fund will deliver swift access to innovative new medicines to support people with life-threatening conditions in Wales. New medicines and treatments are being discovered, developed and tested on an almost weekly basis, offering the hope of a cure or a better quality of life for people with a range of life-threatening illnesses.”

The decision brings Wales to a similar position of England and Scotland, that both have their own designated funds to provide medicine to patients that have been approved as cost-effective by NICE. The key difference being that the Welsh fund does not discriminate by type of drug, such as England’s Cancer Drug Fund, and has been designed, according to Gething, to “treat all conditions equally”.

The move has been welcoming by the APBI, with Dr Rick Greville, APBI director with responsibility for Wales, commenting, “Today’s announcement is great news for NHS patients in Wales and is the type of progressive policy which can make a real impact on patients’ lives. It demonstrates the ambition of the Welsh Government to provide a quality health system across all disease areas, based on evidence and prudent principles. To the frustration of patients and clinicians, we know that health boards have faced financial challenges in planning for the introduction of innovative treatments. The additional £80 million offered by this New Treatment Fund over five years should overcome these concerns, enabling health boards to be early adopters of all medicines shown to be cost and clinically effective.”

Ben Hargreaves

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