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Pharmacist trade body to challenge NICE in court over drug cost cap


11 July 2017

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A pharmaceutical trade body has applied for a judicial review to overturn budgetary restrictions on medicines that would delay the treatment of patients with rare diseases.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is challenging a budget impact limit put in place by NICE that will see medicines costing the NHS more than £20m in any of the first three years through another price negotiation.

A pharmaceutical trade body has applied for a judicial review to overturn budgetary restrictions on medicines that would delay the treatment of patients with rare diseases.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is challenging a budget impact limit put in place by NICE that will see medicines costing the NHS more than £20m in any of the first three years through another price negotiation.

The negotiations, which will involve NHS England officials and the pharmaceutical company, will attempt to minimise the cost impact on the rest of the health service.

NICE has said that if an agreement can’t be reached NHS England can apply to NICE to have the drug ‘phased’ in over no more than three years.

But Mike Thompson, ABPI chief executive, said the new process will delay access to medicines for patients with rare diseases.

He said: ‘After many months of raising concerns with NICE, NHS England and the Department of Health and offering to work constructively on alternative proposals, we have applied to formally challenge these proposals in court.  

‘​We believe this to be the right course of action due to the potential damage these changes will cause to NHS care and on our ability to research, develop and use new medicines here in the UK.

‘We hope that the Government will reverse the changes and work with us to find a solution that works for everyone.’

NICE said it would not comment on the legal challenge, but previously said: ‘Companies will have the opportunity of confidential negotiations with NHS England, to help avoid and minimise delays in patients having access to treatments recommended by NICE.

‘We have agreed that we will review this in 3 years to see what impact it is having on allowing access to new drugs.’

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