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UK government allocates up to £680m a year to two funds offering cutting-edge treatments

The new Innovative Medicines Fund will enable patients in England to gain fast-track access to drug treatments

NHS England

A new fund, the Innovative Medicines Fund (IMF), has been established and will operate in the same way as the existing Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), which can fast-track cutting-edge treatments, despite expensive price tags and even without an approval for routine NHS use.

The IMF will provide potentially life-saving drugs for rare and genetic diseases, with the UK government pledging up to £680m per year to be divided up between the funds.

As with the CDF, the IMF would be able to allow a newly approved medicine to be prescribed with immediate effect, ahead of final recommendations drawn up by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), that balances the weights of cost versus the benefit of drugs used by the NHS.

The treatment would be made available to patients in need while data is assessed by NICE to determine whether the medicine is affordable and effective enough to be offered more widely.

Scotland has already established a similar fund for innovative treatments, ‘The New Medicines Fund’, and Wales has a ‘New Treatments Fund’ that assists in paying for high-cost drugs that have received a NICE recommendation for cost-effectiveness.

It is hoped that with such funds being set up, the lives of many of the population will improve where they might have previously missed out on treatments.

For those living with rare conditions, approving treatments for rare disease can be complex, as the number of patients being impacted by a single rare disease is low.

With the IMF, this could be improved by giving patients the opportunity to have promising treatments fast-tracked, which in turn could increase the data available to NICE for future treatment decisions.

Over the past year, NHS England has negotiated contracts for a range of new treatments, including Zolgensma for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Young children treated with the one-off gene therapy, tipped as being ‘the world’s most expensive’ drug at a list price of £1.79m, were given access to the drug through managed access deals.

UK 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 revolutionary treatments that could extend or save their lives.

"The launch of the Innovative Medicines Fund will fast-track cutting-edge medicines to adults and children, to give people renewed hope for a better future."

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

8th June 2022

From: Healthcare

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