Great news as Health Secretary Matt Hancock has struck a deal to make Orkambi and other ground-breaking medicines for cystic fibrosis available on the NHS.
As a pharmacist I'm delighted that these treatments are now available to patients, but I'm even more pleased that the Health Secretary has been tough with pharmaceutical firms that seek to maximise their profits with tax-payers money.
The production of medicines is a global multi-billion dollar industry that does a lot of good in research and bringing new treatments to market - but the down-side has always been these companies seek the best prices and so access to medicines is often dependant on how deep are the pockets of nation states or your personal health insurance.
In the UK we have stringent guidelines on bringing only the safest drugs to NHS patients but also seek to get the best value for the treasury. This seems harsh at times when patients are desperate for new treatments - of course if it was our child or family member we would want to help them no matter what the cost.
This has been and will be the dilemma for any Health Secretary because the NHS is competing in a global market.
So this news of a deal struck is not just excellent news for patients, it also shows our NHS is in good hands with ministers working hard behind the scenes to really deliver for the country.
NHS ENGLAND announcement on conluding the deal for new cystic-fibrosis drugs
NHS England has announced it has secured a definitive agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals to make available all three of their UK-licensed cystic fibrosis medicines.
This means NHS patients will now have full access to Orkambi, Symkevi and Kalydeco, and around 5000 people may now take up these treatments. There is no cap on patient numbers, and each and every patient in England who might benefit can now get these treatments, free on the NHS. Clinicians will be able to begin prescribing these drugs within 30 days.
NHS England has been able to finalise this negotiation because the company agreed confidential commercial terms that constitute good value for British taxpayers and agreed to submit its drugs for full NICE appraisal.
The agreement provides access to all three drugs for all current licensed indications, as well as future licence extensions too.
Announcing the agreement, NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “The UK has the second highest prevalence of cystic fibrosis of any country in the world, so today is an important and long hoped for moment for children and adults living with cystic fibrosis.
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