Rare Daily Staff

National Health Service patients in England will have early access to potentially life-saving and cutting-edge treatments thanks to up to $427 (£340) million that has been made available through the Innovative Medicines Fund to purchase the most promising medicines and fast-track them to patients to give adults and children the best chances of survival, recovery or a healthier, longer life.

The fund, which meets a manifesto commitment made in 2021, will further support NHS England in offering patients potentially transformative new drugs while further real-world evidence is collected to inform a final decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on whether the treatment is clinically and cost effective and a good use of taxpayer money in the long term, reducing delays and boosting patient outcomes in the interim.

Examples of previous medicines which patients have accessed in a similar way through managed access agreements include a treatment for children with spinal muscular atrophy and a treatment to slow the progression of a life-limiting metabolic disorder.

It builds on the success of the reformed Cancer Drugs Fund which, in the past five years, has provided more than 80,000 people access to life-extending or potentially life-saving drugs which might otherwise not have been available for years.

“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,” said Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary of NHS.  

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

A total of £680 million has been ringfenced for the Innovative Medicines Fund and Cancer Drugs Fund – £340 million each – to fast-track medicines to NHS patients.

An estimated one in 17 people in England will be affected by a rare disease in their lifetime. The Innovative Medicines Fund will provide quick access to novel treatments, including potentially lifesaving gene therapies for serious conditions with few treatment options. It often takes longer for pharmaceutical companies to collect data on a medicine’s clinical and cost effectiveness for rare diseases due to the smaller patient cohort. Rather than making patients wait until this date is available, this new scheme will allow access while this important process takes place, with support from NHS England and NICE.

“This new Innovative Medicines Fund will build on the success of the Cancer Drugs Fund, enabling more patients to benefit from early access to the most promising cancer and non-cancer medicines,” said Blake Dark, commercial medicines director at NHS.

It is hoped improving access to treatment for those patients most in need will help alleviate pressure on the NHS, supporting wider efforts to tackle the COVID-19 backlog.

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) after meeting high standards of safety and quality and will have been recommended as suitable for the fund by NICE.

The Innovative Medicines Fund supports the government’s Rare Diseases Action Plan to ensure people living with rare conditions benefit from faster diagnosis, treatments and support to manage their conditions.

Following a public call for evidence, the government is also developing a 10-year cancer plan to make England a world-leader in cancer care, with renewed attention paid to innovative treatment and early diagnosis to improve outcomes for patients.

Photo: Blake Dark, commercial medicines director at NHS 

X