Scottish Government
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£40m for new medicines

Funding will give patients access to new treatments 

A dedicated fund worth £40 million this year is to give patients greater access to new medicines, Health Secretary Alex Neil announced yesterday.

The £40m New Medicines Fund expands, and replaces, the Rare Conditions Medicines Fund established in March 2013, giving health boards access to greater resources to fund the cost of new medicines.

This will complement changes to the way the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), the independent body which assesses medicines for use in NHS Scotland, have been designed - with the aim of giving Scottish patients greater access to treatments for very rare conditions and end of life.

In 2013/14 the Rare Conditions Medicines Fund supported the cost of 45 different medicines benefitting more than 200 patients. These include Ivacaftor for cystic fibrosis, eculizumab for atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome (aHUS), and PNH and brentuximab for Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Yesterday’s announcement doubles the previous commitment made by the Health Secretary to fund new drugs – doubling the amount available to spend from £20m this year to £40m.

In keeping with the established plan for the Rare Conditions Fund, the £40m New Medicines Fund will be maintained in 2015/16 also.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “Parliament has considered the issue of access to new medicines very carefully in the last 18 months, and there was a clear consensus that steps should be taken to improve access to new medicines for rare conditions and for people who have terminal conditions.

“That’s why I tasked the Scottish Medicines Consortium to develop new ways to ensure the voices of patients and clinicians were better heard in the new medicines approval process, and to ensure that access was improved to medicines for rare and end of life conditions. The SMC have now started to implement these changes and we will be closely monitoring them to determine if any further action is needed in the future.

“The dedicated £40m New Medicines Fund will complement these changes, and will help ensure that more patients get access to the latest medicines as quickly as possible.”

Alastair Kent OBE, Director, Genetic Alliance UK said: “Today's announcement of a doubling of the resources available to support patients needing access to new and rare medicines, together with the commitment to extend the fund in 2015/16 is fantastic news for Scottish patients hoping to benefit from innovative therapies for those with rare diseases and their families.

“Advances in research are creating new hope for patients with incurable rare diseases. Without funding this hope will be frustrated, as those in need will not be able to benefit from the therapies produced, and patients will continue to suffer when something might have been done. We hope that the rules for accessing this new funding will be simple, widely disseminated and speedy in their operation.”

Notes To Editors

Background

Patients who have benefited from the Rare Conditions Fund will continue to be supported within the expanded New Medicines Fund.

The fund is being established by utilising the rebate to the Scottish Government made by the pharmaceutical industry under the UK-wide branded drug pricing scheme, the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS).

Changes to the way medicines are assessed by the SMC were put in place in May 2014 following recommendations from the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee and work commissioned by the Scottish Government to review patient access to new medicines

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