HDA Media And Political Bulletin – 18 March 2016

NEW CANCER DRUGS FUND CHANGES LITTLE, SAYS ABPI

17 March 2016, Pharmacy Biz

Dr Paul Catchpole, value and access director at the ABPI, stated that the new approved Cancer Drugs Fund showed reduced ambition from NICE, noting that the decision making process remained largely unchanged. Under the new Cancer Drugs Fund, NICE will issue draft guidance on new drugs before they receive marketing approval whereas in the past final guidance was issued within 90 days of license.

Dr Paul Catchpole’s full statement is available here.

Biotechs and pharma praise pro-business budget

17 March 2016, Pharmaphorum

UK biotech and pharma companies have welcomed George Osbourne’s pro-business measures in the 2016 Budget. In particular, the extension of entrepreneurs’ relief was seen as responding to the sector’s calls for increased support for “high risk entrepreneurial companies that are the lifeblood of the UK’s life sciences sector”, according to BioIndustry Association (BIA) chief executive, Steve Bates.

Chemist and Druggist (here and here) and The Pharmaceutical Journal report on the sector’s reaction to the Department of Health’s extension of the consultation period for community pharmacy proposals.

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NEW CANCER DRUGS FUND CHANGES LITTLE, SAYS ABPI

17 March 2016, Pharmacy Biz

Dr Paul Catchpole, value and access director at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, has criticised the finalised version of the new Cancer Drugs Fund and claimed NHS England has “a seemingly reduced level of ambition” in providing patients with the latest cancer medicines.

Under the new CDF, which was approved by the board of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, it is thought patients will gain access to cancer drugs much faster because NICE will be able to make decisions on treatments quicker than they have been able to.

Now NICE will issue draft guidance on new drugs before they receive marketing approval in the UK and any drug receiving a positive draft recommendation will be funded from the point of licence. Until now NICE has issued final guidance within 90 days of licence.

“Patients in this country will now have access to clinically and cost effective, innovative new cancer drugs faster than ever before,” said Sir Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of NICE.

“In a first of its kind approach, NICE will issue draft recommendations on the use of cancer medicines before they receive their licence, with funding from NHS England available if approved. No other country in Europe does this.”

The new approach held little sway with Catchpole, who said: “(The) now finalised proposals for the new Cancer Drugs Fund confirm a seemingly reduced level of ambition from NHS England for providing NHS patients in England with access to the latest cancer medicines because the NICE decision making process remains largely unchanged.

“Developing the detail of the proposals, including how the new conditional approval and data collection process will actually work in practice, is already underway. ABPI will work with NICE and NHS England to ensure the new process can be optimised to ensure patients get early access to new cancer medicines.

“When the new CDF opens for new applications in July there will be a significant backlog of cancer medicines waiting to be evaluated – some for over a year.

“Prioritising this backlog appropriately, whilst at the same time evaluating cancer medicines already nearing launch will be hugely challenging and resource intensive. The pharmaceutical industry will do its utmost to help.”

He added: “When the Accelerated Access Review (AAR) – the Government’s initiative to help speed up access to medicines and technologies – publishes in April, there will be a further opportunity to consider the UK’s ambition to provide patients with access to all new medicines, in a more co-ordinated way.

“ABPI will continue to make the case for more substantial changes to be made to the decision making processes for all medicines, including those for cancer.”

Biotechs and pharma praise pro-business budget

17 March 2016, Pharmaphorum

UK biotech and pharma trade bodies have praised pro-business measures in chancellor George Osborne’s budget, including reductions in corporation tax and capital gains tax rates, and protection of the patent box tax incentive scheme.

In his budget, announced yesterday, Osborne said that corporation tax will be reduced to 17% in 2020, further to previous announcements that reduced the rate to 19% in 2017 and 18% in 2020.

The higher rate of capital gains tax for most assets will be cut from 28% to 20% and the basic rate will be cut from 18% to 10%, Osborne said, although there will be an 8% surcharge for gains on residential property and carried interest for fund managers. This is to steer investment towards companies instead of buy-to-let property.

Entrepreneurs’ relief will be extended to longer term external investors in unlisted companies. From 17 March, this will provide a 10% tax rate for external investors holding shares in unlisted companies for at least three years.

Osborne intends this as a further incentive for longer term investment into unlisted companies, helping them access finance.

BioIndustry Association (BIA) chief executive, Steve Bates, welcomed the changes, stating that they responded to calls for support for “high risk entrepreneurial companies that are the lifeblood of the UK’s life sciences sector”.

Bates said he was disappointed not to see more information on innovation policy in Osborne’s announcements, although he added that the BIA will work with the government on a forthcoming National Innovation Plan.

Documents outlining budget plans also show that the existing patent box scheme, which gives tax breaks on sales of technology developed in the UK, will be modified to comply with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rules.

The UK pharma industry has supported the scheme, which is seen as a way of encouraging investment in the country’s life sciences industry.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said: “We welcome and support the government in protecting the patent box and we’re awaiting clarity from the chancellor on the details of the new scheme as a result of the recent OECD changes.”

Department of Health extends consultation period for community pharmacy proposals

16 March 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal, Harriet Adcock

Health minister confirms extension after the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee dubs consultation length as “inadequate”.

Health minister Alistair Burt has confirmed that the Department of Health will extend its consultation on proposals for the community pharmacy sector until 24 May 2016.

The two-month extension will “allow us more time to develop our proposals with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), informed by the views of other stakeholders”, Burt said on 16 March 2016.

The decision to extend the consultation, originally scheduled to end on 24 March 2016, follows a request from the PSNC.

Sue Sharpe, chief executive of the PSNC, comments: “The initial time given for a consultation of this scope and complexity was inadequate, and we had asked for a more realistic timescale.

“We will now continue our ongoing discussions with the Department of Health and NHS England, seeking to understand the rationale for the various proposals and to find ways to ensure that the services and value provided by community pharmacies are recognised and expanded in future.”

Burt announced the extension during a meeting of the All-Party Pharmacy Group in Westminster where he was giving evidence to the group’s inquiry into primary and community care.

“The only part of the consultation process that will formally conclude on 24 March 2016 will be the consultation on the pharmacy integration fund,” he explained.

The aim of the pharmacy integration fund, at least initially, will be to support the deployment of clinical pharmacists in a range of community care settings. These will include GP practices, urgent care hubs, care homes and NHS 111. The fund will be worth £20m in 2016–2017, and will rise by £20m per year, meaning that by 2020–2021 £300m will have been invested.

Concluding this part of the consultation by 24 March 2016, will enable arrangements for the distribution of money from the fund to be put in place in the first part of the 2016/17 financial year, Burt explained. “There will continue to be opportunities for informal discussions about these arrangements once the fund is formally established.”

Burt added that he hoped the extension “demonstrates good faith on our part that we want to engage”.

“People are coming forward with ideas,” he said. “We want to make sure that the consultation period feels as long as is necessary for people to make their responses.”

During the APPG meeting, Burt also explained some of the thinking behind NHS England’s proposals for the sector, which include a cut to the pharmacy budget of £170m in 2016/17. He highlighted the intention to allow pharmacists to practise more clinically, irrespective of setting, and to introduce efficiencies into the dispensing process.

“I want to emphasise that our proposals are about improving services and securing efficiencies and savings,” he said. “A consequence may be the closure of some pharmacies but that is not our aim.”

Burt said that the changes being proposed for the sector could be made “without compromising the quality of services or public access to them”.

Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England, who also spoke at the APPG event, argued that there were “more pharmacies than necessary to maintain good access”.

Burt was questioned about the proposed community pharmacy access scheme, which is being proposed as a way of protecting pharmacies at risk of closure because of the funding cuts but which are deemed necessary because of their location and the needs of the local population.

Burt said: “We want to ensure that extra NHS resources go to pharmacies that must be retained in order to serve the public.

“Ultimately, there has to be a national, public, transparent formula. It can’t be done on an arbitrary basis.”

Details of the formula, which would take into account location, isolation, deprivation and other population demographics, would be made public, probably towards the end of the negotiating period, said Burt. “It can’t be set out in detail yet because it’s not finalised. But it will be public so people can see how decisions are being made.”

The Department of Health is now expected to hold another round of meetings with stakeholders, including the PSNC, Pharmacy Voice and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

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