Posts Tagged “NHS”

NHS gets £8m payout from Aspen Pharma over anti-competitive practices

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NHS gets £8m payout from Aspen Pharma over anti-competitive practices

The NHS has been given an £8m payout from a pharmaceutical firm after an investigation found that it engaged in anti-competitive practices that pushed up the cost of a life-saving drug for the health service. It is the first time that the Competition and Markets Authority has secured such a payment to the NHS as part of one of its investigations. Aspen, which is also facing a fine of up to £2.1m, supplies the NHS with fludrocortisone, a life-saving medicine mainly used to treat Addison’s disease. It is paid for by the NHS.

“The CMA launched this investigation because we consider it unacceptable for the NHS – and the taxpayers who fund it – to have to pay millions of pounds more than they should for this life-saving drug,” said Andrea Coscelli, the chief executive of the CMA. The CMA’s investigation found that Aspen struck deals to pay two rival companies to stay out of the market for the drug, making Aspen the sole supplier and able to set prices without facing competition. During the CMA’s investigation Aspen made an approach to the regulator in an effort to resolve the case. The company has admitted that it was part of…

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Drug companies are putting a price on the lives of those with cystic fibrosis | Isabelle Jani-Friend | Opinion

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Drug companies are putting a price on the lives of those with cystic fibrosis | Isabelle Jani-Friend | Opinion

Placing a life-changing drug beyond the reach of NHS Scotland is cruel, says recent graduate Isabelle Jani-Friend. At 7am, I wake up and, while most people are starting their days, having breakfast and making their way to work, I – like the 10,400 people in the UK with cystic fibrosis – am beginning my daily treatment regime. For me, this involves a concoction of 30 tablets to fuel my morning, each with their own variety of debilitating side-effects, from sickness to dizziness and fatigue. The morning calm is disturbed by my noisy inhalation machine as I breathe in medications, while a positive pressure machine helps me cough up thick, sticky mucus from my lungs, which takes another hour. All in all, it’s a glamorous way to start the day.

And it doesn’t stop there. Every time I eat, I have to take enzymes to help me digest my food, and I take a regular dose of painkillers to help me get through the aches and pains. It’s a constant reminder of my disability and all the limitations it has on me living a “normal” life. After a long and exhausting day, my medication routine is repeated in the evening, with…

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Cystic fibrosis drugs rejected for use by NHS in Scotland

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Cystic fibrosis drugs rejected for use by NHS in Scotland

Two “life-changing” cystic fibrosis drugs have been rejected for routine use by the NHS in Scotland. The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) said there were uncertainties about the long-term health benefits of Orkambi and Symkevi in relation to their costs. Manufacturer Vertex and the Scottish government are now working “as a matter of urgency” to find a way to allow broad access for eligible patients. Campaigners described the decision as disappointing and unfair.

Orkambi and Symkevi help to improve lung health in patients with cystic fibrosis, but cost about £100,000 per year per patient. The SMC said it heard “strong evidence” from patient groups and recognised that the decision would be “disappointing”. But chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said: “There remained significant uncertainty around their overall health benefits in the long-term, in relation to their costs. “In order to be able to accept these medicines the committee will need to be satisfied of their cost-effectiveness and we continue to work with the company to achieve that.” The SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, Marion Fellows – whose three-year-old granddaughter Saoirse suffers from cystic fibrosis – said she was “disappointed” about the decision.

Saoirse was diagnosed with the condition when she was…

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UK government pledges £250m artificial intelligence lab for health services

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UK government pledges £250m artificial intelligence lab for health services

UK government pledges £250m artificial intelligence lab for health services

The new lab aims to develop new technologies in healthcare but concerns remain over data handling

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, second from left, and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, left, speak with staff members during a visit to an NHS hospital on Monday. AFP

Britain’s National Health Service is to receive £250 million (Dh1.1 billion) to set up a National Artificial Intelligence Lab to develop high-tech treatments for cancer, dementia and heart disease, the UK government has announced.

Health and social care minister Matt Hancock announced the creation of the fund, which aims to turn the health service (NHS) into a world leader in the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare.

It is the latest in a series of announcements intended to underline the British government’s commitment to the NHS under prime minister Boris Johnson.

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson announced £1.8bn in NHS spending, including an £850m hospital upgrade programme to improve care in 20 hospitals across the UK.

Critics of the policy said the money is not enough to fix the damage caused by years of budget cuts.

Mr Hancock, a technology enthusiast who has developed his own app,…

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NHS England sees off AbbVie’s Hep C legal challenge

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NHS England sees off AbbVie’s Hep C legal challenge

NHS England has claimed a victory after a legal challenge by AbbVie was rejected by the High Court, and says plans to eliminate hepatitis C by 2025 are back on track.

The court victory – and NHS England’s reaction to it – reflect its growing confidence in its use of tough negotiations and procurement to drive down drug prices and strike access deals with pharma.

AbbVie is one of several companies to market the new class of hepatitis C (HCV) treatments known as Maviret (glecaprevir/pibrentasvir), which can cure patients of the serious blood infection. Maviret is in contention with rival treatments such as Gilead’s Sovaldi, Harvoni and Epclusa, to name a few.

NHS England had initially been slow in its uptake of these new curative treatments, but then last year declared it would aim to be the first country in the world to eliminate HCV, with a target date of 2025, and spending £1bn over five years to achieve this goal.

However, in order to make this £1bn stretch to treat millions of HCV patients, NHS England aimed to achieve this via its largest ever procurement process – and called on pharma companies to offer unprecedented discounts to their prices.

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Court backs NHS in hepatitis C procurement row with AbbVie

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Court backs NHS in hepatitis C procurement row with AbbVie

A court has backed NHS England in a case where US pharma giant AbbVie had alleged that its procurement process for hepatitis C drugs was unfair.

NHS England aims to eliminate hepatitis C by 2025 using the ‘largest ever’ drug procurement process, inviting pharma companies to take part in the initiative worth almost a billion pounds over five years. But AbbVie had claimed the NHS breached its duty to treat all bidders fairly and started court proceedings last year.

NHS England said the country’s High Court has dismissed all aspects of the case, claiming that the initiative had been delayed by six months because of the litigation. In the ruling the judge rejected all challenges brought by AbbVie against NHS England’s smart procurement for the supply of curative direct acting antiviral treatments.

The drugs are intended to support a national network of hepatitis C projects that NHS England hopes will eradicate the disease. pharmaphorum understands that contracts have not yet been awarded, and no further details have been announced about which companies are involved.

But only a handful of firms have direct-acting antiviral hepatitis C drugs approved – meaning that as well as AbbVie, pharma companies such as Gilead, Johnson…

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Biosimilar adalimumab: a landmark for NHS medicines optimisation

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Biosimilar adalimumab: a landmark for NHS medicines optimisation

The implications of adalimumab’s European patent expiry

The NHS’s bid to improve patient outcomes and save money by switching costly biological drugs for cheaper biosimilars reached a major milestone in October when adalimumab – which has the highest global turnover of any medicine – came off patent in Europe.

The NHS has already achieved savings of £210 million through the use of biosimilar medicines, according to recent figures for 2018/19, and it plans to widen the market further as adalimumab, which is used for a range of conditions, is opened up to competition from cheaper rivals.

Regional Medicines Optimisation Committees (RMOCs), which were launched last year, have been playing a pivotal role in working with NHS commissioners and providers on best value biologics and helping them to prepare for adalimumab’s patent expiry.

The role of RMOCs

NHS England’s Medicines Value programme aims to help improve outcomes whilst keeping medicines affordable. A key strand of the programme involves optimising the use of medicines via the four RMOCs, which are based in London, the south, the north, and in the Midlands and east of England. They are designed to operate as a single, strategic medicines optimisation system for the whole country.

Each…

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NHI in South Africa is a big deal, we are discussing it, but where are the details?

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NHI in South Africa is a big deal, we are discussing it, but where are the details?

While debates rage about the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in South Africa and its shortcomings, Wits School of Governance professor of public governance Robbie van Niekerk says it is “a big idea” everyone should be discussing.

He says this is perhaps the most significant social policy introduced since the advent of democracy as it deals directly with the inequality of resource distribution between social classes. Health provision is a public good that affects all inhabitants of SA.

“I don’t think we have reached the point of a societal foundation because we failed to effectively communicate to the mass of society the scale of the inequality and the long-term benefits of a universal public health system as originally envisaged by the NHI,” says Van Niekerk. “That is a troubling element in how this debate is unfolding. It’s a wake-up call.”

In SA, 50% of yearly health spending — public and private combined — is incurred by the 16% of the population covered by medical aid and the other 50% on the 84% of the population wholly reliant on public health or those who make small payments for private health care.

Van Niekerk says: “Is it any wonder that our service delivery system is…

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Brexit uncertainty adds significant risk to EU medicines access

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Brexit uncertainty adds significant risk to EU medicines access

Next week, leaders of the 28 countries making up the European Union will meet in Brussels to try to hammer out the terms of Britain’s exit from the coalition, or Brexit. It will be one of the last chances to do so before the country departs on March 29, 2019.

Britain stunned the world in June 2016 when a slight but significant majority of voters elected to leave the EU. The decision has left many businesses, including pharmaceutical firms, rushing to prepare for the changes that Brexit will bring. “A vote to leave is the gamble of the century,” David Cameron, then British prime minister, wrote months ahead of the referendum. “And it would be our children’s futures on the table if we were to roll the dice.”

Belonging to the EU means being part of the single market, which allows people, goods, services, and money to move freely across member countries’ borders. The difficulty of disentangling these political and economic ties has led to more than a year and a half of messy negotiations, as politicians struggle to agree on how the future relationship between the UK and the EU should look. Options have ranged from what news media…

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Health department cannot guarantee ‘supply of medicines’ after Brexit, MPs warn

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Health department cannot guarantee ‘supply of medicines’ after Brexit, MPs warn

Vital drug shortages could become more likely when the UK quits the European Union, MPs are warning after health ministers were unable to give guarantees on how they would prevent fallout from a ”no deal” Brexit.

A report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on medicines shortages last year found no evidence that the government was adequately prepared for similar disruption from leaving the EU.

The report said it was “worrying” that the Department “could not assure us of its plans to safeguard the supply of medicines after the UK has exited the European Union”.Unexpected increases in the prices of certain generic drugs cost the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds last year and despite signs in June 2017 and the government was “slow to take action to manage the financial impact”, the report said.

A National Audit Report, published earlier this year, found concessionary spending was £315 million in 2017/18, compared to £46 million in the previous financial year.

The Department of Health and Social Care sets monthly prices for what primary care pharmacies can spend, but concessionary reimbursement prices can be granted if the drugs can only be found at a higher price.

Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the committee, said increases in prices of generics last year…

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