• Press Office

    Posted in category News Release by Press Office on 26/01/2011

    News release – Stark regional variation in patient access to NICE-approved drugs

New data published today shows widespread variation in patient access to NICE-approved drugs at Primary Care Trust (PCT) level.


The data, published by the NHS Information Centre, is the work of the Metrics Working Group and compares predicted and observed use of 47 NICE-approved medicines in the NHS across England.

In this, its second report, the group has collected PCT and cancer network data as well as information at strategic health authority (SHA) level, enabling a more detailed look than ever before at the medicines patients are being prescribed.

The report is still experimental, but considerable progress has been made since the first report last year. It provides an important step towards clear, transparent evidence to help identify, understand, and break down barriers to, consistent national access for NHS patients.

Director General of the Association for the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Dr Richard Barker said:

“What is clear from this data is that you need to look at a local level to see what medicines patients are really getting access to. With some of the medicines at national or SHA level usage data looks fine but the picture looks quite different at the PCT level.

“This report is still very much work in progress, but it raises some serious questions for healthcare providers and makes the case for clear national guidance as we move towards a new era in local decision-making in NHS commissioning.

“Recent reports repeatedly show the UK continues to lag behind other western European countries in the uptake of most innovative medicines despite having among the lowest prices. So price is obviously not the only factor in patient uptake: we need to understand the other factors that influence what patients receive.”

The report, “Use of NICE-appraised medicines in the NHS in England - 2009, Experimental statistics”, considered 47 new medicines in 18 groups, relating to 29 technology appraisals.

Some of the starkest regional variations were revealed by data showing uptake of new NICE approved medicines to treat diabetes and osteoporosis at PCT level.

The Report looks at insulins (page 59) to treat diabetes and shows observed usage varies from 65 per cent less than predicted by NICE to 95 per cent higher than predicted.

When comparing the observed use and predicted use of six NICE-approved medicines to treat osteoporosis, the variation is even greater with the lowest usage being 79 per cent less than expected and the highest 632 per cent higher than expected (page 65).

The data collection was agreed as part of the 2009 Pharmaceutical Pricing Regulation Scheme. The report does not interpret data, but provides an insight into what is happening so that healthcare providers, industry, patient groups and Government can look more closely at why and where variation is happening and work together to develop solutions.

The report enables PCTs to compare uptake of NICE-approved medicines across England and provide a more accurate measurement against NICE expected uptake. A full copy of the report can be found on the NHS Information Centre’s website at: www.ic.nhs.uk

Notes to editors

The Metrics Working Group comprises of representatives from the Department of Health, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has 150 members including the large majority of the research-based pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK, both large and small.  Our member companies research, develop, manufacture and supply more than 80 per cent of the branded medicines prescribed through the National Health Service (NHS).  For further information visit: www.abpi.org.uk

Media enquiries:

ABPI Press Office
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7747 1410 or +44 (0) 20 7747 1441
Mobile: +44 (0) 7808 641810 or +44 (0) 7850 312064 
Email: pressoffice@abpi.org.uk    

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