Health department to fund interferon beta despite institute's ruling

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 10 November 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1087
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    The Department of Health in England and Wales is considering new ways to fund treatment with interferon beta and glatiramer for multiple sclerosis (MS), including a unique “risk sharing” scheme in which the drugs would be funded only if treatment trials in individual patients showed they were effective.

    The suggestion seems to undermine the recommendation that these drugs should not be funded by the NHS, which was made last week by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), the body that advises on the clinical and cost effectiveness of drugs.

    A statement released last week set out the unusual proposal: “The Department of Health can confirm that it is in discussions with four manufacturers of beta interferon and related products, as well as other stakeholders. Our discussions are looking at a range of options, including the possibility of a ‘risk-sharing’ scheme in which the drug would be funded for relapsing-remitting MS patients.

    “After a period of time an assessment would be made of whether the drug was working for patients. If it were, payments would continue. If not, payments to manufacturers would be reduced on a sliding scale.”

    The department's statement argued that the suggestion was, in fact, in line with the institute's …

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