Fund to fast-track innovative drugs to NHS

The UK Government has announced the launch of the Innovative Medicines Fund to bring cutting-edge treatment more quickly to NHS patients.

The COVID-19 backlog affecting the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) remains a significant challenge that calls for a multifaceted holistic remedy.

An exciting new avenue has now been confirmed that aims to provide breakthrough medicine to patients quickly through the Innovative Medicines Fund. This fund will see up to £340 million made available to purchase the most promising medicines and fast-track them to those individuals most in need.

Previous funding initiatives for providing access to similar breakthrough drugs have brought treatment for children with spinal muscular atrophy and a therapy that slows progression of a life-limiting metabolic disorder

It also follows the success of the reformed Cancer Drugs Fund, which over the past five years has afforded access to life-extending and life-saving medicine for more than 80,000 individuals who might otherwise have waited years.

The money will importantly include potentially lifesaving gene therapies for serious conditions that currently have few treatment options.

According to the UK Government website, it is estimated that one in 17 people in England will be affected by rare disease in their lifetime. Given that it can take pharma companies a long time to gain sufficient data to ascertain clinical efficacy of new treatments, this new scheme will give patients access to cutting-edge treatments while data collection takes place.

All medicines deployed through the Innovative Medicines Fund and Cancer Drugs Fund will have been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), assures the government. This ensures the treatments will have met the necessary high standards of safety and quality and will have been recommended as suitable for the fund by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Summarising the key objective of the fund, Dr Samantha Roberts, chief executive of NICE, commented: “This fund, like the Cancer Drugs Fund, will help us more quickly identify and make available transformational new treatments that will bring real benefits to thousands of people and offer high value to the NHS.”