The BIA welcomes a number of the recommendations set out in the Report, such as the inclusion of wider benefits and costs of treatments to society, for example shorter hospital stays and the costs of carers and socials services, in the appraisal process. This is an important step in recognising the true value of innovative medicines not only to the patient in terms of improved treatment outcomes, but also to society in general.
The introduction of an early, quick assessment of all new medicines prior to launch is potentially a useful addition to the role of NICE, which would have to be adequately resourced to carry out this additional work. However, the BIA has concerns over reducing the cost-per-QALY threshold as this devalues the contribution of innovation and the costs associated with bringing a new medicine to the market.
‘This proposal will deny patients early access to the most innovative new medicines and erode freedom of pricing which is at the heart of the UK’s ability to develop and launch innovative, new medicines,’ said Aisling Burnand, Chief Executive of the BIA. ‘The Government must be careful not to undermine the ability of the bioscience sector to develop new medicines as these innovative therapies will not only provide healthcare benefits for patients, but also long term savings to the Exchequer.’
The BIA agrees with the Committee that there is no empirical basis for the cost-per-QALY threshold and would welcome a sensible discussion of the broader meaning of value and recognition of innovation, with input from industry.
The BIA believes the decision to set up an independent review body to assess the current thresholds used by NICE is also an important step forward, as is the recommendation for NICE to place greater emphasis on disinvestment of old technologies that are not cost-effective, thereby allowing the most effective medicines to be used.
The BIA is also concerned that the Report’s recommendations for greater uptake of medicines at Primary Care Trust and prescriber level do not adequately address the difficulties encountered in ensuring the uptake of innovative new medicines.
“We look forward to the response to this report from NICE and the Department of Health and hope that they will promote the prompt uptake of innovative medicines to deliver the best healthcare for patients through the NHS,’ said Aisling Burnand.
For further information, please contact Robert Winder, Communications Executive, 020 7565 7193; mobile 07825 942 934.
Notes to editors
The House of Commons Health Select Committee report is available from:
1 - Wilking, N. “A global comparison regarding patient access to cancer drugs.” Annals of Oncology 10.1093/annonc/mdm095-103 (2007).
Example of cost effectiveness of biotech medicines
The biotech drug infliximab has been licensed in Europe since 1999 for Crohn’s disease that is resistant to treatment, and since 2006 for ulcerative colitis. A British study, published in 2005, involving 205 patients with Crohn’s disease and comparing 2 periods of 6 months before and after an initial injection of infliximab showed a very significant decrease in the number of hospitalisation days (1435 before, 342 after) and a reduction in direct cost estimated at £591 006. The cost of the infliximab injections was £562 719, or a net reduction in cost of £28 287 (£138 per patient). For further details of this example and for other examples see http://www.bioimpact.org
Established in 1989, the BIA (BioIndustry Association) exists to encourage and promote a financially sound and thriving bioscience sector within the UK economy and concentrates its efforts on emerging enterprise and the related interests of companies with whom such enterprise trades.
With over 300 members, the BIA supports a wide range of sectors, majoring on the human health benefits of the technology and represents the interests of these innovative companies to a broad section of stakeholders from patient groups to politicians, advancing its members interests both within the UK and internationally to create a healthy UK bioscience sector which benefits society. For further information, please go to: www.bioindustry.org
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