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The UK government says that cutting-edge medicines, diagnostic tools and digital services will be made available on the national health service (NHS) more quickly as a result of improvements to the Accelerated Access Collaborative.
The AAC, which was set up in 2018 to speed up access to ground-breaking products for conditions like cancer, dementia and diabetes, is to become the new “umbrella organization for UK health innovation.”
It will act as the “front door” for innovative companies seeking to have their products funded by the NHS, and will “provide support to overcome barriers that can prevent the best medical innovations from reaching patients,” the government said. A new unit will be established in NHS England and NHS Improvement, led by Sam Roberts, NHS England’s director of innovation, as chief executive.
The revamped AAC was announced on 2 May by health minister Nicola Blackwood, who said: “I want the NHS to be at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments and medical innovations – but often it can take too long for products to get from the bench to the bedside.”
She said the AAC would now be able to speed up this process “so patients and the NHS can be the first in the world to benefit from the most transformative technologies and treatments as part of our Long Term Plan.”
In its new incarnation, the AAC is intended to implement a system that can identify the best new innovations, “make sure the NHS is ready to make use of them,” and help the service adopt clinically and cost-effective innovations more quickly, the government said.
It will also set up a “globally leading testing infrastructure” that allows innovators to “generate the evidence they need to get their products into the NHS.”
These moves will complement efforts that have already been made to bring the NHS into the “horizon scanning” system and ensure that it is prepared for highly innovative products coming down the pipeline so that they can be made available to patients as quickly as possible, as part of the new voluntary pricing and access scheme that took effect at the beginning of this year. (Also see "ABPI Exec Lauds Innovation And Access Provisions In New UK Voluntary Scheme" - Pink Sheet, 29 Apr, 2019.)
Other objectives of the revamped AAC are:
To provide a single point of call for innovators working inside or outside the NHS, so that they can “understand the system and where to go for support.”
To signal the needs of clinicians and patients “so innovators know which problems they need to solve.”
To oversee a health innovation funding strategy that “ensures public money is focused on the areas of greatest impact for the NHS and patients.”
Blackwood presented the changes at today’s conference of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, one of the member organizations of the AAC. Speaking ahead of the event, ABPI CEO Mike Thompson said: “This is a real step forward in making sure UK patients get the latest breakthrough treatments. It sends a clear message that the UK intends to build an innovation-led economy alongside a more productive, innovation-ready NHS. We fully support Sam Roberts in making this a huge success that will change the lives of patients in the UK.”
How The AAC Works
According to health technology assessment body NICE, which hosts the AAC’s secretariat, key areas of interest for the collaborative include products that have evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness, address a significant unmet need, treat large populations or have a high budget impact, or enable a novel mode of action or “significant changes to the care pathway.”
Products designated as high potential will receive additional support, advice and direction from the AAC, with a “tailored package of support with dedicated case management,” NICE says. This support includes running processes in parallel, generating real-world evidence, the potential for flexible commercial arrangements, and pathway transformation to drive adoption of products by the NHS.
Last year, the AAC identified 12 “rapid uptake” products in seven high-potential technology areas that were to be made available more quickly to enable patients with conditions such as cancer, heart disease and multiple sclerosis to gain early access to them. NHS England said that these products “could improve the lives of around 500,000 patients and save the NHS up to £30m.”
They are as follows:
HeartFlow Inc's HeartFlow Analysis for estimating fractional flow reserve from coronary CT angiography.
Roche Diagnostics' Elecsys immunoassay and Quidel's Triage PIGF test for early diagnosis of suspected pre-eclampsia.
Roche Diagnostics' Elecsys Troponin and Abbott Diagnostics' Architect STAT for early ruling out of myocardial infarction.
MAST Diagnostics' OC Sensor, Alpha Laboratories' HM-JACKarc and Sysmex's FOB Gold fecal immunochemical tests for colorectal cancer.
Teleflex's Urolift device for relieving painful urinary tract symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Sanofi’s alirocumab and Amgen’s evolocumab for primary hypercholesterolemia and mixed dyslipidemia.
Merck’s Mavenclad (cladribine) for highly active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
The AAC was launched last year in response to the independently chaired Accelerated Access Review published in 2016, with the aim of making the process of getting transformative technologies to patients quicker, cheaper and easy for both innovators and the NHS.
Its member organizations include the ABPI, the BioIndustry Association, the Association of Medical Research Charities, NHS England, the UK medtech industry group, the Association of British HealthTech Industries, and the Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN).
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