The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has announced plans to limit spending on new drugs to save money. NICE said the cap is needed due to the “significant financial challenge facing the NHS”.
The £20M a year cap will be introduced next month, but this new measure could see delays of up to three years before new drugs are made available to give NHS bosses the chance to try to renegotiate the price with drug firms.
Currently, drugs that are assessed as being cost-effective by NICE are automatically recommend for use in the NHS, then the health service has 90 days to start offering the drugs. This process assesses the cost versus the benefit of the drug on the basis of the impact to an individual, but does not take into account how many people may take the drug and therefore the total cost to the NHS.
Under the new plan, widely used drugs and expensive but effective drugs that breach the £20m a year threshold will face a secondary process. NHS England will be able to halt the 90-day deadline and then begin bartering with the manufacturer to try to get the price down. They will be able to apply for an extension of up to three years. During this period, NICE will have the power to allow restricted use to patients deemed most in need.