NHS set to save £150 million by switching to new versions of most costly drug
Health chief Simon Stevens has today asked NHS hospitals to ensure they are ready to realise savings of up to £150 million a year to reinvest in frontline care after the patent on the NHS’s most costly drug ends this week.
Adalimumab is the single medicine on which hospitals spend the most, at a cost of more than £400 million a year.
More than 46,000 patients are prescribed the drug, which is only currently available under the brand name Humira®, for hospital treated, serious conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis.
However, doctors are now being asked to also consider equally effective, safe, ‘biosimilar’ versions of Adalimumab after the exclusive patent on the drug expires on Tuesday 16th October.
NHS England has issued guidance to Trusts and CCGs telling them that nine out of 10 new patients should be started on the best value medicine within three months of a biosimilar launch. At least 80% of existing patients should be switched to the best value biologic (which could be the originator or a biosimilar) within 12 months.
Biosimilar versions of Adalimumab are expected to be available to NHS patients from December this year, and could help save at least £150 million per year by 2021 depending on the price agreed for the drugs. The ongoing use of Humira® may also continue where clinically appropriate and where it is best value.
NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Biosimilar versions of widely used, expensive drugs are already delivering safe, effective treatment for patients across the NHS, including those with cancer.
“Adalimumab is the NHS’s biggest spend on a single drug and, as the NHS develops the long term plan, we want more clinicians to switch to use the best value biologics which will free up hundreds of millions of pounds to reinvest back into patient care.”
Last year the NHS spent £17.4bn on medicines, an increase of one third since 2010/11.
NHS England recently announced plans to accelerate and widen the uptake of biosimilars in a bid to save up to £300m a year by 2021. In 2017-18, the NHS saved over £200 million by using more biosimilar medicines.
Up to four adalimumab biosimilars could be available by the end of the year.
NHS Improvement’s director of hospital pharmacy Andrew Davies said: “We’ve had some excellent uptake of existing biosimilars so far which means more patients get access to high-quality, effective medicines and the NHS can reinvest savings into frontline care.
“The launch of biosimilar adalimumab will be the fifth major class of biosimilar launched for wider NHS use, and preparations have been put in place to make sure that more patients are able to receive this treatment as quickly as possible.”
Increasing choice of better value drugs is the latest example of ‘smart procurement’ by NHS England, aimed at making treatments and medicines available to more patients by driving down costs.
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society, Psoriasis Association and Crohn’s & Colitis UK are supporting NHS England’s plans to widen the uptake of biosimilars.
In a joint statement, they said: “We welcome the increased availability of effective treatment options for patients and understand the importance of the wise and careful use of NHS resources. Our organisations have been working to provide patient information and support since 2014 and are familiar with the evidence to date which reinforces the fact that biosimilars are as safe and effective as the reference products. The introduction of biosimilars for adalimumab brings opportunities for both patients and the NHS.”
Latest News from
Decade of improved outcomes for patients thanks to Surgical Safety Checklist22/01/2019 13:15:00
Leading figures in health are celebrating ten years of a checklist for surgical teams which has saved countless lives and improved outcomes for patients in England and around the world.
NHS top doctor prompts stronger mental health safeguards on high street botox21/01/2019 13:15:00
Superdrug will introduce new mental health checks for customers who want to undergo cosmetic procedures, after England’s top doctor called on the beauty chain and other providers to do more to protect people against body image pressures.
NHS England’s plan to eliminate Hepatitis C decisively backed by High Court18/01/2019 15:25:00
NHS England’s plan to eliminate Hepatitis C in England by 2025 is on track after all aspects of a High Court challenge by pharmaceutical company AbbVie were dismissed.
NHS commits to long term support for race equality17/01/2019 13:15:00
A team of experts and £1 million annual investment are part of a package of measures in the NHS Long Term Plan, to improve race equality in the health service, as a new report highlights the experience of black and minority ethnic (BME) people working in the NHS.
Patients avoid 7,500 nights in hospital with ‘tailored’ home help scheme16/01/2019 11:15:00
An NHS programme in Somerset has helped patients avoid 7,500 nights in hospital and freed up at least £2 million for other services.
Update on the PrEP Impact Trial14/01/2019 10:15:00
Implementation of the PrEP Impact trial has been a huge success with over 10,000 participants already enrolled in this important HIV prevention measure.
Local health groups allocated £570 billion to fund the NHS Long Term Plan10/01/2019 16:20:00
Local health services today are being allocated £570 billion to fund NHS services and implement the new long term plan.
GP practices free up 3,000 extra patient appointments through Primary Care Network10/01/2019 15:15:00
GP practices in Luton have worked together to provide more than 3,000 extra appointments a year including halving the number of appointments lost due to patient non-attendance.