Switch to effective medicines ‘could save NHS millions’

24 Jul 17

The NHS could save millions of pounds by adopting a drug procurement scheme based on whether treatments improved patient health, a Social Market Foundation report has found.

The study, Outcomes-based reimbursement of medicines, from the think-tank calls for a different approach that would offer more value for money by only funding effective treatments.

Under the proposals the government would agree desired patient outcomes with manufacturers and payment would be contingent on achieving the jointly agreed goals.

Report author and SMF research director Nigel Keohane said: “With pressure on the health budget growing, the NHS should adopt the principle of only paying for what works when it buys medicines.

“This would simultaneously drive better value for money and mean that patients could be given earlier access to new treatments.

“Given the NHS spends £17bn on medicines each year, the reforms would also steer manufacturers to develop innovative drugs that can make the largest improvements to patient health.”

The SMF suggests that the government develop exemptions for smaller firms to allow them to develop new treatments while having their investment protected.

It also suggests a faster drug-approval process, with evidence on drug effectiveness collected at the same time that patients have access to them.

Drawing on international experiences in countries such as Italy and lessons from other UK public services, the report recommends:

  • new drugs that meet specific criteria – such as addressing “unmet need” among patients – would be eligible to go through the new purchasing scheme and fast-tracked to patients;
  • the NHS and the manufacturer would agree the health outcomes that should be achieved and the basis on which the manufacturer would be paid if and/or when the drugs are successful;
  • the NHS should lead an exercise towards better outcomes measurement and data to enable performance to be tracked properly. This would be of wider benefit to NHS commissioning reforms.

The report was sponsored by Swiss drug producer Novartis, however, the SMF said it retained editorial control.


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