UK plans to fast track access to drugs – in some cases up to ten years earlier – are expected to be announced imminently.

Part of the Department of Health’s Early Access Scheme – and following Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge in 2011 to improve early access – the policy, still to be approved, would look to cut the time from bench to bedside to about five years.

News of the launch of the scheme was reported by The Telegraph, which had seen official documents outlining that the scheme would apply to “innovative drugs for serious illnesses for which there is no existing treatment or where the current medicines are inadequate”. Promising new drugs would also be designated with a “breakthrough” status, the newspaper adds.

Early access would be dependent on safety data, and patient and doctor consent, according to the documents.

The next PharmaTimes PDC business meeting on 15 April is exploring the topic of early access to new medicines featuring speakers from McKinsey, NICE, NHS England and the MHRA. To find out more and join the debate on 15 April, book your ticket here.