NHS should work with industry to assess new drugs

The NHS should work more closely with manufacturers on assessing the benefits of new medicines, rather than simply blocking access to them, the drug industry believes.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event last week, Dr Richard Barker, director general of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said that restricting access to drugs led to patients missing out on best care available.

This means patients cannot be included in many trials and creates a spiral in which care in the UK falls behind that in other countries, he said.

Dr Barker said NICE should recognise that there may be limited evidence when a drug is launched as to how well drugs worked in practice in different patient groups.

Rather than blocking access, the NHS should be allowed to use the drug and studies undertaken of how patients are benefitting, he said.

The NHS could then become a 'living laboratory for healthcare innovation', he said.

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