The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has welcomed the call by the UK drug cost watchdog for a wide-ranging review of the way in which new medicines are adopted, evaluated and taken up by the NHS, in conjunction with the pharmaceutical industry and partners.

The ABPI stands ready to support such a review, and it should start as soon as possible, adds the industry group, commenting on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)’s response to its consultation on value-based assessment (VBA). 

The outcome of discussions by the NICE Board shows it has listened and responded to concerns raised by the industry and other stakeholders, says the ABPI. The industry group’s response to the consultation had called for an appraisal process that was fit for purpose and responsive to the new medicines being developed by the industry, and NICE has recognised this by acknowledging that the kind of technologies it will be asked to appraise and the model of pharmaceutical R&D are changing, it adds.

The ABPI also agrees with NICE’s recommendation that further consideration of burden of illness and wider societal benefits should be taken forward in the context of the broader consideration of the way in which new treatments are developed, evaluated and supported for adoption in the NHS. And the agreement to retain end-of-life criteria, which the industry had called for in its consultation response, is “undoubtedly the right decision for the moment to support patients accessing medicines at the end of their life,” it adds.

“A more ambitious reform of NICE methods and processes is needed in order to achieve greater access to new innovative medicines for NHS patients. We are pleased to note that there will be no immediate changes to the NICE methods guide as a result of the VBA consultation, and we hope that this will result in a broader and more radical review before progressing further,” commented Paul Catchpole, the ABPI’s director of value and access.

“Additionally, the ABPI is pressing for more immediate reform of NICE appraisal processes, working with NHS England and industry in order to address the growing issues and challenges around the Cancer Drugs Fund, in which both organisations have a critical role to play in creating a permanent and sustainable solution,” Mr Catchpole added.