Charities slam decision that empowers health chiefs to delay offering costly medication even if it provides good value for money
PATIENTS could be denied life-saving drugs for up to three years under new NHS money-saving measures.
Health chiefs can now delay offering costly medication even if it provides good value for money.
It applies to any treatments expected to cost £20million or more in any of the first three years of their NHS rollout.
Charities say one in five new treatments may be affected and diabetes, dementia and cancer patients could die waiting.
The NHS previously had 90 days to make drugs available once they were approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
The new scheme will give NHS England and drug firms more time to discuss potentially lowering the cost of treatments.
The heads of 21 health charities have published an open letter which says: “There could be a real risk of patients dying while life-extending drugs are kept just out of reach.”
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Sarah Woolnough, from Cancer Research UK, said: “If Nice thinks a treatment is effective and value for money, then patients should receive it without delay. Cancer patients may lose their lives while they wait.”
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Alzheimer’s Research UK has significant concerns that this measure could mean delays for people with dementia accessing future treatments.
“There is a huge unmet need and with so many people likely to benefit from any new dementia drugs, it is very possible that such treatments may cost more than £20million a year.”
NHS England’s John Stewart said: “We are committed to working closely with companies that are willing to price their products responsibly.”
Other changes agreed by the Nice board will see the introduction of a new fast-track option for treatments which cost under £10,000 per year of good quality of life for patients.