NHS England has announced it will begin funding a range of new specialised treatments and drugs, following a consultation process.
A total of 39 treatments including Duodopa, a drug which controls the symptoms of patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease and proton beam therapy to treat certain cancers, will now be funded, following the prioritised process for 2015-16.
However, the arms-length body also listed ten separate treatments and services which it decided had not met its criteria, so would not be routinely commissioned.
These include the use of the drug Sapropterin to treat Phenylketonuria, a rare genetic condition in children and three policies on the use of prosthetic limbs.
Meanwhile funding decisions on two drugs, Elosulfase alfa, a treatment for ultra-rare disease Morquio and Alaturen for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, have been delayed pending the outcome of appraisals by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Barriers to access to these treatments have been the subject of particular patient, clinical and political concern, which HSJ has covered previously.
The announcement follows a three-month consultation which the agency began in January on its approach to choosing which specialist treatments to commission.
NHS England’s approach to decisions about access has previously been criticised by patient groups, which said that the length of the process meant that it would many leave patients with rare conditions unable to gain routine access during that period.
NHS England stressed yesterday that routes “remain open” to clinicians for patients with exceptional or critically clinically urgent need to access a certain treatment or service, even they are not routinely commissioned.
NHS England’s clinical director for specialised commissioning James Palmer said: “These are really difficult decisions, which is why we rely on NICE wherever possible, and make use of the best available evidence as well as extensive engagement with clinical experts, patient representatives and the public.
“The new policies we have been able to approve will help us to improve and extend thousands of lives for years to come through prevention, identification and treatment.”
Earlier this week Mr Palmer told a group of pharmaceutical insiders that the price the health service would pay for new medicines would be “different to what we’ve experienced in the last few years” and “decreasing”.
Speaking at the IMS Health UK Market Access Summit, he said the prioritisation of out of hospital care by the NHS would mean “significant growth” in funding for specialised drugs “is not going to happen”.
NHS England has said it will consult further later this year on the details of a process which will be used in future for decisions on access to specialised treatments.