Government publishes its response to Accelerated Access Review

Whitehall chiefs throw weight behind plans to improve uptake of innovative products within NHS

The Government has published its response to the review

The Government has set out plans to respond to Sir Hugh Taylor’s Accelerated Access Report of Innovative Medicines and Medical Technologies (AAR), including a firm commitment to speeding up the time it takes patients to benefit from ground-breaking product innovation for conditions such as cancer, dementia and diabetes.

The announcement, made last week, includes:

  • The creation of an Accelerated Access Pathway (AAP) from April 2018. This will provide a new route to market with quicker regulatory and market access decisions. The Government’s ambition is to bring forward the time it takes patients to access selected innovations by up to four years
  • The establishment of an Accelerated Access Collaborative to oversee the AAP before the end of this year
  • The introduction of additional commercial negotiating capacity within NHS England, for example regarding the Highly Specialised Technologies Programme
  • An £86m funding package to help innovators of all sizes access the NHS market and help these products get to the patients that need them, including support for small and medium-sized enterprises to build a stronger evidence base for their products; support for clinicians to use new treatments and technologies in everyday practice; and a programme to support grassroots adoption and uptake of new medical technologies
  • Investment of £39m to boost the support provided by the 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to improve adoption by the NHS of the right innovations and to tackle unwarranted variation in uptake. New Innovation Exchanges will establish greater collaboration between the AHSNs and support innovators, clinicians, and patients
  • The extension of the innovation scorecard to track the uptake of innovative medical devices

The response states: “The Government’s ambition is that NHS patients should be among the first in the world to get life-changing treatments.

“Achieving this goal is only possible by working in close partnership with our world-leading life sciences sector.

“Our response to the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) sets out how we will work with industry and the health system to create a streamlined and sophisticated approvals system so that cost-effective breakthrough products – be they drugs, devices, digital or diagnostics – can get into the NHS as fast as possible.

“The report echoed the Government’s ambition to build an even-more-dynamic and forward-looking NHS and to make sure the UK is the best place in the world to innovate and invest in new life sciences technologies.”

In our view patients deserve better access to new, proven medical technology and I sincerely hope that these measures will deliver on that promise

It adds: “The case for change is compelling.

“The NHS faces significant challenges in dealing with demographic changes, the pace of scientific advances, and the evolution of more-complex personalised medicines and technologies.

“As our demographics change and populations become older, overall and per capita healthcare costs continue to increase.

“Technology and the availability of data are facilitating behaviour change in patients, who are becoming increasingly engaged about the type and quality of care they should be receiving. And our ability to develop treatments for rare and previously unmet need creates increasing debate about access, affordability and cost-effectiveness.”

While welcoming the Government’s stance, Medical Technology Group (MTG) noted that, at present, the AAP only allows for five products a year, a ‘relatively-small number which is unlikely to have a transformative effect on healthcare delivery’.

The report echoed the Government’s ambition to build an even-more-dynamic and forward-looking NHS and to make sure the UK is the best place in the world to innovate and invest in new life sciences technologies

It also called for further detail on how this tariff and the assessment will work in practice.

Barbara Harpham, chairman the MTG, said: “After almost 20 reports and reviews of innovation in the NHS over the past 10 years, to see positive steps being taken by Government to speed up the adoption of innovation is very encouraging.

“In our view patients deserve better access to new, proven medical technology and I sincerely hope that these measures will deliver on that promise.

“That said, a notable absence from the Government’s response was mandatory funding for all NICE guidance, which would provide reassurance to industry and certainty to patients. This continues to be one of the MTG’s core recommendations.

“We would also like to see the number of products going through the AAP rapidly expanded so that these initiatives make an impact on more patients with a broader range of conditions.”

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