Business, Innovation and Skills Questions: Early access review for innovative medicines

George Freeman highlights the Government’s review to speed up access for innovative medicines and the need to ensure the NHS plays a leading role in driving quicker access.

T5. [907624] Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): The Minister responsible for life sciences will be familiar with Daiichi Sankyo, an innovative drug company based in Chesham and Amersham. It is launching a novel oral anticoagulant to help prevent strokes more effectively in people who suffer with atrial fibrillation. The uptake of such drugs has been repeatedly blocked by the NHS despite guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that calls for their use. What can the Minister do to clear that blockage so that the drugs can be used to benefit our patients?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (George Freeman): I am indeed familiar with the great work of Daiichi Sankyo, and that of my right hon. Friend in supporting its investment in her constituency. I recently had the pleasure of going up to open a new facility. She raises an important point, and the appointment of a Minister responsible for life sciences at the Departments for Business, Innovation and Skills and of Health, where I have responsibility for NICE and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, allows us to begin to ensure that our health system better supports our life sciences cluster. The review I recently launched of speedier access for innovative medicines will tackle the issue of uptake that my right hon. Friend has rightly raised.

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Mr David Willetts (Havant) (Con): Will the Minister confirm that one of the best ways of getting funding into innovative life sciences companies is for them to get contracts from the NHS earlier? He just referred to his very important early access review. What are the ambitions for that, and the timetable?

George Freeman: My right hon. Friend and predecessor makes an important point. Since we launched the life science strategy at the start of this Parliament, as set out and led by my right hon. Friend, this country has attracted over £3.5 billion of inward investment into the sector and created more than 11,000 jobs, so something is going very right. He makes a key point: the next step is to ensure that our NHS is driving quicker access. We shall shortly be announcing the chair of the review, and we have already started to gather evidence. My right hon. Friend will have noticed on his recent trip to America the support and the interest that it is gaining overseas for driving our sector forward.

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