The response to the crisis on behalf of the UK institutions responsible for health care has been unprecedented. Never before have we seen such agility, flexibility and levels of collaboration. Through the pandemic MHRA has played a pivotal role in enabling the ACCORD and RECOVERY trials that have led to all COVID patients enrolled in clinical trials and the research demonstrating the importance of dexamethasone, in time frames that would previously have been unimaginable.
On behalf of EMIG Members, we would like to record our thanks and congratulations to all of those at MHRA, HRA, NICE, NHS England, DHSC and OLS who have exceeded expectations and shown what is possible. If we can maintain these levels of co-operation and flexibility, apply them more broadly in approval of research and innovative technologies, all patients will benefit.
NICE sets the bar globally and is in the process of reviewing its approach (the NICE Methods Review). In these deliberations it can now reflect on its own response to the crisis and the way it has compressed the time taken to issue guidance…how should this experience inform longer term changes meaning that patients in England can be first in line for new treatments?
For patients to be the ultimate winners, changes introduced by NICE will need to be complemented by action on behalf of NHSE-I. Industry is playing its part through its five-year VPAS commitment to fund all annual medicines bill growth above two percent. While the VPAS is in play, the NHS has the opportunity to be an early adopter of innovation without the distraction of cost. NICE methods need no longer differentiate between patients and different types of disease, whether common or rare.
Industry, scientific and medical leaders should engage now to define the practical lessons, the positive attitudes and behaviour changes, that can be drawn from our shared response to the pandemic and embedded in future everyday activity. The crisis has been a unique experience and created an imperative to act together with a sense of urgency in the national interest. Soon we will be at a fork in the road – let’s continue down this new path, define our new normal, and not turn back to how things were.