Launch of Early Access Scheme to Innovative Medicines

Today marked the launch of the Early Access to Innovative Medicines Scheme. The Scheme will accelerate access to innovative medicines in the NHS, something I have been championing as Government Life Science Advisor over the last two and a half years. It is a hugely important initiative for the smaller biotech and emerging Pharma companies, who have been struggling with NHS rationing of new medicines in recent years. 
In the last decade, the UK has slipped down the league tables and attracted a reputation for ‘low and slow’ rates of adoption of innovative medicines.  I believe the breakdown of the old Big Pharma model of ‘blockbuster’ drug design, and the shift towards Targeted or Personalised Medicines creates a real opportunity for the UK.  The ability to use the NHS's unique 30 year clinical records database and the UK's leadership in medical genomics to lead in the new model of 21st medicine in which drugs are designed around patients ('Stratified' Medicine) offers a huge win for the UK: faster access for NHS patients to new drugs, huge inward investment from global life science companies seeking faster access to the all-important clinical validation in the NHS, and a New Deal on drug pricing with NHS getting drugs much more cheaply.
We set out the vision of an Early Access scheme in the Prime Minister’s speech launching the Life Science Strategy in December 2011. I was delighted to have been invited to work with Department of Health Ministers and officials to design a Scheme and put this vital piece of the Life Science Strategy into place.
The Scheme will cut the delay patients currently face in getting access to treatments for serious conditions where no remedy currently exists. It has the potential to make the UK the laboratory of new medicines, with huge benefits to the UK Life Science Sector as well as to NHS patients, inward investment in our NHS and NIHR Research labs,  and our medical research charities.
The news of the launch of the scheme has been warmly welcomed by research charities, patient groups and the life science sector.




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