ABPI: Plan to delay use of cost-effective medicines undermines patients’ “basic rights under the NHS constitution”

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has responded to the NHS England / NICE consultation on technology appraisals and highly specialised technologies, calling the plans a breach of patient rights under the NHS Constitution and accusing the Government of breaking a manifesto promise.

Commenting on the final proposals following consultation, ABPI Chief Executive Mike Thompson said:

“Today’s proposals from NICE/NHS England break the Conservative Party’s 2015 Manifesto promise to speed up the introduction of cost-effective medicines into the NHS. No other area of the NHS has the same high levels of scrutiny as medicines.  These new plans will prevent patients from receiving NICE approved, cost-effective medicines, undermining their basic rights under the NHS constitution.”

The plans propose a dynamic upper-limit for costs per quality adjusted life year above which funding for highly specialised technologies treatments will not be recommended. They were widely condemned by patients and industry alike when they were originally proposed in November 2016.

Mr Thompson commented that thousands of patients would wait longer for treatment for conditions like heart disease, cancers and diabetes under the plans, while medicines which stand to benefit the most people are “caught up in the system”.

“Use of new medicines in the UK is already poor with patients seven times more likely to get a newly launched medicine in places like Germany or France. While Scotland and Wales are both making strides in improving the use of new medicines, English patients face more barriers. As we head towards Brexit we should be catching up with Europe not falling further behind,” he added. “Just as the Government has announced it will not break its Manifesto promise on National Insurance, we ask that it also withdraws plans to break its Manifesto promise to NHS patients.”