The figures, published today [Tuesday, 12 January] are from latest publication of the NICE Technology Appraisals in the NHS in England - Innovation Scorecard. Published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), the Scorecard pulls together existing local data from across the NHS to show the regional provision of NICE-approved medicines and technologies.
ABPI's acting CEO, Alison Clough, said:
"We are not surprised to see that today's figures show that access to modern medicines to treat and prevent a wide range of diseases, including cancer and diabetes, is still subject to wide variation across England. In some cases we are seeing variation of 30 fold in access to GP or hospital prescribed medicines - for example for newer stroke prevention medicines - all of which are approved by NICE as being clinically and cost effective and should therefore be widely and routinely available.
Without further detail and analysis of the figures it is difficult to know why we are seeing such wide variation in patient access to newer medicines. The ability to access potentially life-saving or life-enhancing medication shouldn't be dependent solely on cost or geography and it would be disappointing if this was the case in some areas. The ABPI will be carrying out an immediate investigation into today's figures and we will be working with the appropriate bodies – NHS, patient groups and charities – to try and address issues of inequality of access for those patients who, for whatever reason, are missing out on the most appropriate medicines for their care.
The ABPI is completely supportive of the Scorecard to measure the uptake of new medicines and drive innovation. For the scheme to be a success we - and all of the organisations involved - must begin to address the reasons for the persistently low levels of medicines access that we believe the Scorecard is highlighting and take action.
In order to achieve this the Scorecard needs to be more widely understood so that it can be used at local planning level by the NHS. For this to happen it is vital that the scorecard be launched in a more user friendly and easy to understand format."
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The ABPI represents innovative research-based biopharmaceutical companies, large, medium and small, leading an exciting new era of biosciences in the UK.
Our industry, a major contributor to the economy of the UK, brings life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients. We represent companies supplying around 90 per cent of all medicines used by the NHS, and are researching and developing the majority of the current medicines pipeline, ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of helping patients prevent and overcome diseases.
The ABPI is recognised by government as the industry body negotiating on behalf of the branded pharmaceutical industry, for statutory consultation requirements including the pricing scheme for medicines in the UK.