The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Review set for access to new medicines

Independent review will judge success of SMC system

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 01 February 2016

The Scottish government has announced an independent review will be carried out into the way that drugs are assessed for use on the NHS north of the border.

The review will look at how the changes made to the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) process in 2014 have improved patient access to medicines for rare and end-of-life conditions.

It will also look more broadly at how the whole system for getting patients access to newly licensed drugs safely and quickly is working.

Various reforms have already been introduced by the SMC, which are designed to give more weight to the views of patients and clinicians when considering drugs for the treatment at end of life and very rare conditions.

Scottish health secretary Shona Robison announced the review at the weekend, saying that former NHS Fife medical director and former GP, Dr Brian Montgomery, would lead it.

Ms Robison said: “Access to new medicines for rare or end-of-life conditions is an extremely complex issue.

“Over the last few years, this government has taken a number of significant steps to improve the balance of these decisions and help patients get better access to treatments that can give them longer, better quality lives.

“Since we introduced our £90 million New Medicines Fund and made changes to the SMC process in 2014, 26 medicines have been approved under the new system, and together with other reforms have benefitted over 1,000 patients in Scotland.

“However, with new treatments coming to market all the time, it is important to take stock of the progress to date to continually assure ourselves that our systems for assessing and accessing new drugs are keeping pace and meeting the expectations of patients. An important part of this is that the NHS pays a fair price for these new drugs.”

Breast Cancer Now’s director for Scotland, Mary Allison, said: “At Breast Cancer Now we believe that, if we all act now, by 2050 no one will die from breast cancer. To do that we need to make sure that patients and clinicians have access to the most advanced treatments both now and in the future.

“Women with incurable secondary breast cancer and those treating them need better access to innovative life-extending medicines. We believe that the systems in Scotland can work better to get a fairer deal for patients and the NHS.

“These drugs don’t only represent medical advances, they represent the hope of more time to see that last birthday, Christmas or holiday; they offer people a chance to share some more time with those they love. The solution is complicated and we welcome the fact that the systems in Scotland will be reviewed.”

The review is expected to report in the summer.

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470