• Press Office

    Posted in category News Release by Press Office on 17/10/2012

    Patients in half of disease areas still not receiving cost-effective NICE approved medicines

A new report published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows that NICE-appraised medicines are being underused by the NHS in half of the disease groups raising concerns that patients are not receiving the best treatments available.


The findings, published in 'Use of NICE-appraised medicines in the NHS in England, in 2010 and 2011' are the result of a 2009 agreement between the ABPI and Government to measure how well patients are able to access the medicines approved by NICE.  It illustrates where medicines use is lower than, in line with or higher than the NICE expectation.

After nearly four years, the latest report continues to show that patients are still not getting access to NICE recommended medicines at the expected level, as half of the disease groups are showing lower than expected use.  In fact, the picture for some of the medicines showing under use in 2010 has actually worsened in 2011.

NICE approved medicines are shown to be cost effective. The NHS is required to fund them and the NHS Constitution gives patients the legal right to NICE recommended medicines if their clinician deems it appropriate.

The ABPI is concerned that with the UK consistently lagging behind our international counterparts on the uptake and access of medicines, this Report is showing how little progress has been made. Secondly, there is concern from industry about how few of the newest medicines have been included in the report. We know there are a number of innovative medicines that are difficult for patients to access.

Finally, the data also demonstrates that doctors are prescribing older generic medicines at a higher level than NICE expectations. This is a result of the very long time it takes for some medicines to reach or exceed NICE estimated levels by which time they have lost their patent and can be prescribed cheaply by the NHS. To keep the medicines life cycle in balance it is important the savings that the healthcare system makes on generics are then reinvested back in to new, innovative medicines.

Commenting, Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive of the ABPI, said:

"This is a critically important report which the DH, HSCIC and the ABPI have been working on together for over a year now. It is vital that we understand when NICE recommended medicines are not reaching patients. This year's report shows that many medicines, including new medicines, still continue to be underused. It is also clear that there is too much unwarranted regional variation - so in some parts of the country people can access a medicine, whereas just a few miles away, another person can't.

“In the interests of the nation’s health and improving patient outcomes, these problems must be addressed as a matter of urgency. We are pleased therefore the Government through its commitment to the Innovation, Health and Wealth review has acknowledged these on-going problems and has pledged to harness the NHS to drive adoption and diffusion of the latest, innovations in medicine and technology.”

Commenting, Steve Oldfield, Managing Director UK & Ireland of Sanofi and Co-chair of DH/ABPI Metrics Oversight Group,1 said:

"Many of the medicines appraised by NICE which are absent from the report are not reaching patients as quickly as they should, as local funding pressures in the NHS start to bite. More worryingly still, the very latest medicines launched in the last two years are being used significantly less than expected.

“This is a worrying trend and for too long now the UK has been shown to use fewer new medicines than most major Western countries.  This leads to poorer patient outcomes, for example in cancer in the UK.2 It is urgent therefore that Government, industry and NICE work together to ensure that patients receive the best modern medicines, bringing us at least in to line with our European counterparts.”


Media enquries

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

Notes to Editors

  1.  The Metrics Oversight Group (MOG) was formed this year to give strategic leadership and direction to work on 'Use of NICE-appraised medicines in the NHS in England'.

    MOG is jointly chaired by Andy Sutherland, Head of Profession for Statistics, (HSCIC) and Steve Oldfield, Managing Director UK & Ireland of Sanofi. The MOG membership is comprised of representatives from DH, the ABPI (including an ABPI member company), NICE, HSCIC and the NHS. 
  2. Eurocare 4 2009
  3. The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK.

    Our industry, a major contributor to the economy of the UK, brings life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients. Our members supply 90 per cent of all medicines used by the NHS, and are researching and developing over two-thirds of the current medicines pipeline, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of helping patients prevent and overcome diseases.

    The ABPI is recognised by government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry, for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK.
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