The Government's announcement today of plans to review the availability of cancer treatments across the NHS has been welcomed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI). But the ABPI also warned that this problem is not confined to the treatment of cancer.
The ABPI said the Government also needs to review other areas where postcode prescribing continues to be an issue. In fact, the problem still affects many areas reviewed by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) - including Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and diabetes - where modern treatments are not being made universally available as recommended.
In spite of the Government's introduction of directions to require mandatory funding of positive guidance, NHS organisations are not adopting NICE recommendations, and patients are being denied access to medicines that have been found to be clinically and cost effective.
"It is clear that a review is needed to look at where and why this is happening," said Dr Trevor Jones, ABPI Director General. "We will probably find there are a number of reasons, including pressure on GP and hospital budgets, a traditional conservatism of doctors to take up new treatments, and a lack of knowledge in parts of the NHS about the benefits of some of these advances. It is clear that these modern treatments do have major advantages for patients and they are entitled to benefit from them."
The House of Commons Health Select Committee review of NICE last year called for the systematic monitoring of the implementation of NICE guidance at a local level. The pharmaceutical industry believes that this is essential if patients are to benefit from NICE recommendations.
"Ensuring that patients have access to the best healthcare available is of great concern to the pharmaceutical industry. Allowing them to have access to the newest treatments will not only benefit patients, but the impact will also be felt by families, carers as well as saving the health service money in the long-term," said Dr Jones.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410