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Improved access to drugs

NICE and Lord Darzi have announced a package of measures to speed up access to new drugs and treatments for NHS patients

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Health Minister Lord Darzi have announced a package of measures to speed up access to new drugs and treatments for NHS patients.

The announcement, which consists of four proposed changes, aims to ensure NHS patients receive the drugs and treatment they need faster. The measures will also enable local NHS trusts to make decisions about new treatments before NICE has issued guidance.

The four components of the measures are:
· A consultation on a faster system for referring drugs for appraisal to NICE, enabling the watchdog to issue more timely guidance and therefore speeding up patient access to drugs and treatments
· A new appraisal committee ensuring NICE has the required resources to approve new drugs and treatments promptly
· Increased investment to ensure new drugs are identified for approval earlier in the process
· A guidance document outlining how Primary Care Trusts should make decisions on the use of new drugs where no NICE guidance currently exists. A programme of training and support will be carried out to assist the NHS with implementing the guidance.

Announcing the package of measures, Health Minister, Lord Darzi, said: "Last year in High Quality Care for All I set out our commitment to speed up the NICE process. Together, the measures set out today build on this commitment and will help provide faster and fairer access to new drugs and treatments - great news for patients."

Commenting on the proposals, Andrew Dillon, CEO of NICE said: "Speeding up non-cancer appraisals by at least three months to come in to line with the cancer appraisals, and increasing transparency by clarifying topic selection criteria, are just some of the potential improvements we and the Department of Health are suggesting."

The consultation will run for three months and will consider the views of patients, the public, health professionals and other stakeholders.

3rd March 2009

From: Healthcare

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