The measures outlined in the ‘Life Sciences Blueprint’ include:
- The introduction of an Innovation Pass, administered by NICE, which will allow time-limited use of selected innovative medicines on the NHS. The selected medicines will be those which can deliver improved patient outcomes to a small number of patients, but where a lack of cost-effectiveness data is limiting market access. Therefore, they will be funded without going through a NICE appraisal. However, NICE will develop and apply eligibility criteria for the Pass, giving patients with the greatest need earlier access to innovative drugs. The medicines will be evaluated by NICE after the three-year initiative comes to an end. The Pass will be piloted in 2010/11, with a budget of £25 million from the Department of Health.
- The NHS Chief Executive will review system levers and incentives, including Payment by Results, to accelerate the uptake of new medical technologies.
- The Government will reinforce the need for greater emphasis on research and clinical trials in the next NHS Operating Framework.
- The Government will support the formation of a UK Life Sciences Super Cluster to co-ordinate work across industry, higher education and the NHS, and to boost international recognition of UK life sciences.
- The blueprint calls for the Treasury to further investigate the possibility of a ‘patent box’ tax incentive, offering a lower rate of tax on profits derived from patents located in the UK to encourage the creation and exploitation of intellectual property in the UK.
- The Technology Strategy Board will launch an £18 million ‘RegenMed’ programme of investment to support commercial R&D and the development of NHS partnerships, supported by an additional funding of £3.5 million from Research Councils.
- The Government will invest an extra £1 million to promote the UK and NHS brands at flagship life sciences events in the UK and overseas.
The Office for Life Sciences was created on 27th January 2009 and has since been working on this package of measures to transform the operating environment for life science companies in the UK. The next step will be to develop detailed delivery plans for each action, which will be published in the autumn.
Further reading - A detailed review of the UK pharmaceutical market is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: United Kingdom (published June 2009)