Patients are failing to get new drugs even when approved by NICE, industry chief says

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 09 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7640
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

The “social contract” between the NHS and the drug industry was breaking down, the director general of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, Stephen Whitehead, warned on Thursday 8 November.

Traditionally, he claimed, the risks taken by the industry in developing new drugs were rewarded by sales to the NHS, which generated the funds for further investment in drug development. But today, he said, NHS patients were not getting new drugs, even those approved as cost effective by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

“I have a strong and increasingly frustrated view that the model of healthcare is broken,” he said. “I am concerned and I am frightened that our deal—we discover medicines and get them to patients—is broken. This matters.

“We discover, we develop, we partner, and we launch great medicines: a recent prix Galien winner for constipation that was approved by NICE and saves thousands in referrals yet is reaching pathetic levels of uptake; the new superb breakthroughs in hepatitis C that transform lives but are dwindling, awaiting orders, whilst agonising interferon continues to be used; new anticoagulants to replace toxic …

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