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Wales unveils 'sensible' £80m medicines access fund

New scheme hopes to provide greater consistency and accelerate availability by eight weeks

WalesThe Welsh government has come up with its own mechanism to speed patients' access to life-saving medicines, backed with £80m in funding.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething announced the formation of the Wales' New Treatments Fund this week, claiming it would provide greater consistency on access than the two systems operating in England and Scotland and make drugs available around eight weeks earlier than at present.

The funding has been allocated for a five-year period and - according to Gething - will ensure "NHS Wales is in the best possible position to provide the latest drugs".

Health boards in Wales will get £16m per year to implement the new system, and in return will be required to make available drugs backed by the National Institute for Heath and Care Excellence (NICE) or the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) no later than two months from the date final guidance is published.

Moreover, NICE-recommended medicines will be made available after final guidance is published, rather than waiting for the final Technology Appraisal guidance that comes after an appeal period. Since last year 55 new medicines have been recommended by NICE and the AWMSG for use for conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, cancers, epilepsy, heart disease and HIV.

"This significant investment will help remove uncertainties around funding for new treatments and help the Welsh NHS prepare for the introduction of new medicines," said Gething.

The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) and Scotland's New Medicines Fund cover drugs treating a limited range of indications, but Wales' system will be less restrictive, providing funding deemed cost-effective for any condition - though that does raise questions about how far the fund will stretch.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is positive about the changes, describing it as "the type of progressive policy which can make a real impact on patients' lives".

Dr Rick Greville, ABPI director with responsibility for Wales, said: "We know that health boards have faced financial challenges in planning for the introduction of innovative treatments.

"The additional £80m offered by this New Treatment Fund over five years should overcome these concerns.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

11th January 2017

From: Regulatory

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