REUTERS: British drugmakers have accused Theresa May’s Conservative government of breaking a manifesto commitment to improve access to new medicines, following approval of new cost rules that take effect on April 1.
The angry response from both Big Pharma and biotech firms comes despite a concession by government in the latest version of the scheme, which increases the cost threshold for certain drugs for rare diseases from the previously planned level. Some charities, including the Alzheimer’s Society, also expressed concern that the measures could mean delays for people with serious conditions in getting new treatments. The row comes at a sensitive time for the government, which is about to trigger proceedings to leave the European Union but wants to encourage investment by strategic industries, including the high-tech pharmaceuticals sector. Drug companies are already concerned that Brexit could make Britain a less attractive market, especially if the country ends up outside the current EU-wide system for drug licensing.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which determines the cost-effectiveness of new drugs, and NHS England say their new procedures will fast-track the availability of drugs that offer exceptional value.
But drug industry executives believe few, if any, new medicines will actually benefit from this provision and the overall impact of the changes will be outweighed by newly introduced budget curbs.