With the average development, licensing and regulatory-cycle for a medicine taking in excess of twelve-years, proposed medicines’ launch dates are inevitably uncertain – whether through welcome acceleration, unfortunate delays or catastrophic termination during the clinical trial phase.
On announcing the New Treatment Fund in 2017, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care in Wales, Vaughan Gething AM, challenged the pharmaceutical industry to support improved horizon scanning by NHS Wales, especially to identify where infrastructure and/or service reconfiguration may be required to support the introduction of a new medicine.
As ABPI Cymru Wales, we responded to this challenge by improving our understanding of the current horizon scanning processes in Wales, collaborating across Industry and the wider health sector to identify good practice approaches.
In 2017, we invited our European colleagues from EFPIA to participate at the Welsh NHS Confederation Conference and the Bevan Commission Annual Conference, where they outlined the challenges faced across Europe in long-term horizon scanning and opportunities, from early identification of transformative treatments in a number of disease areas, including Alzheimer’s and cancers.
However, we also recognised the need for a non-partisan view of horizon scanning and planning needs and, following earlier work undertaken in 2014 and 2016, the ABPI re-commissioned the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care (WIHSC), University of South Wales to explore the issues around horizon scanning in Wales and elsewhere.
WIHSC focussed their work on understanding how different nations undertake horizon scanning, through individual interviews and a workshop, where the approaches were considered through the eyes of NHS Wales, Welsh Government, the All Wales Toxicology and Therapeutics Centre (AWTTC) – the secretariat to the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) - and ABPI member companies.
All participants were clearly committed to improving horizon scanning in order to more effectively anticipate the arrival of new medicines – and clearly identify those, which may enable new approaches to care, change patient pathways or have significant resource implications.
A new report from WIHSC captures potential individual contributions from the quartet of stakeholders, but usefully also captures the clear benefits if horizon scanning contributions and approaches are co-ordinated and developed collaboratively.
WIHSC suggests that the development of a Wales Advanced Notification (WAN) process could be such a collaboration project – ensuring an approach to horizon scanning which is “Once for Wales”, but sits usefully alongside other UK wide approaches such as UK PharmaScan.
It is clearly important that all stakeholders continue to work collaboratively on this topic to ensure that patients across Wales benefit from access to new, innovative medicines in a planned and timely fashion. We’re inviting everyone, from NHS Wales, the Welsh Government and patient organisations, to ABPI members and other companies in the pharmaceutical industry, to get involved. For more information, contact ABPI Wales.