New fund could enable early access to life-saving treatments for NHS patients in England

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NHS patients in England will have early access to potentially life-saving cutting-edge treatments thanks to a new fund which was launched today.

Up to £340m has been made available through the Innovative Medicines Fund to buy the most promising drugs and fast track them to patients to give adults and children the best chance of survival, recovery or a healthier and longer life.

The fund, which responds to a manifesto pledge, will further support NHS England by providing patients with potentially transformative new medicines while further real-world evidence is collected to inform a final decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ( NICE) on whether the treatment is clinically and cost-effective and a good use of taxpayers’ money in the long run, reducing delays and improving patient outcomes in the meantime.

Examples of earlier drugs that patients have similarly accessed through managed access agreements include a treatment for children with spinal muscular atrophy and a treatment to slow the progression of a life-limiting metabolic disorder. .

It builds on the success of the reformed cancer drug fund which, over the past five years, has provided more than 80,000 people with access to life-prolonging or potentially life-saving drugs that otherwise would not would not have been available for years.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

I want NHS patients to be the first in the world to access the most promising and breakthrough treatments that could prolong or save their lives.


The launch of the Innovative Medicines Fund is another manifesto promise and will accelerate access to cutting-edge medicines for adults and children to give people hope for a better future. »

A total of £680m has been earmarked for the Innovative Medicines Fund and the Cancer Medicines Fund – £340m each – to speed up access to medicines for NHS patients.

It is estimated that one in 17 people in England will be affected by a rare disease in their lifetime. The Innovative Medicines Fund will provide rapid access to new treatments, including potentially life-saving gene therapies for serious diseases with few treatment options. It often takes longer for pharmaceutical companies to collect data on the clinical and economic effectiveness of a drug for rare diseases due to the smaller cohort of patients. Rather than making the patient wait until that date is available, this new scheme will allow access while this important process is taking place, with the support of the NHSE and NICE.

NHS Commercial Medicines Director Blake Dark said:

The NHS continues to be a pioneer in securing deals and rolling out the latest breakthrough drugs and treatments. This new Innovative Medicines Fund will build on the success of the Cancer Medicines Fund, enabling more patients to benefit from early access to the most promising cancer and non-cancer medicines.


The NHS long-term plan shows we are committed to adopting NICE-approved treatments as soon as possible and earmarked funding of £680m will help provide faster access to promising new drugs and ensure that the NHS remains at the forefront of securing the best breakthrough treatments for patients. .”

It is hoped that improving access to treatment for patients who need it most will help ease pressure on the NHS, supporting wider efforts to tackle the Covid backlog.

All medicines deployed through the Innovative Medicines Fund and the Cancer Medicines Fund will have been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after meeting high standards of safety and of quality and will have been recommended as suitable for the IMF by NICE.

NICE Chief Executive Dr Samantha Roberts said:

I am delighted that NICE has been able to play a key role, alongside NHS England and NHS Improvement, in creating this important new initiative to give people earlier and faster access to promising new treatment innovations.


This fund, like the Cancer Drugs Fund, will help us identify and make available more rapidly transformational new treatments that will bring real benefits to thousands of people and deliver great value to the NHS. »

The Innovative Medicines Fund supports the government’s action plan for rare diseases to ensure that people living with rare diseases receive faster diagnosis, treatment and support to manage their disease.

Following a public call for evidence, the government is also drawing up a 10-year cancer plan to make England a world leader in cancer care, with renewed focus on innovative treatments and cancer care. early diagnosis to improve patient outcomes.

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