NHS able to delay rollout of expensive drugs under new rules

Access to the full content of this site is available only to registered healthcare professionals. Register to read more

New rules will allow NHS England to delay the rollout of expensive treatments even after approval by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Any drug likely to cost the NHS over £20 million per year will be subject to the slower rollout. This would allow more time for NHS England and the pharmaceutical companies to discuss the possibility of lowering the cost of the drug.

In the current system, the NHS has 90 days to make treatments available to patients after NICE approval.

The move has been met with criticism from some charities, who have expressed fears that patients may face delays accessing potentially life-saving treatments.

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s Executive Director of Policy, called the plans ‘unacceptable’, adding: ‘If NICE thinks a cancer treatment is clinically effective and represents value for money, then patients should receive it without delay.

‘Cancer patients may lose their lives while they wait. We need to decide whether we want a world-class health system in the UK, and if so we need to pay for it.’

Mike Thompson, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, accused NICE an...