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Health: Innovation Pass

Volume 715: debated on Monday 30 November 2009


My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Mike O’Brien) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government published a public consultation on proposals for an innovation pass pilot on 27 November 2009. The innovation pass will make selected innovative medicines available on the National Health Service for a time limited period, from a ring-fenced budget, while further evidence on their benefits is gathered.

The Government announced the introduction of an innovation pass pilot in the Office for Life Sciences Blueprint published in July 2009. This brought together a coherent package of measures to maintain a competitive life sciences industry, an industry that is crucial to the United Kingdom from both a health and economic perspective. One of the key actions made a commitment for the department to introduce an innovation pass with NICE.

The proposals for the innovation pass have been developed for medicines for small patient populations which have the potential to deliver improved patient outcomes but where data to demonstrate cost-effectiveness are so far limited. The pass will be a three-year initiative which will make selected innovative medicines available on the NHS in England for a time-limited period, prior to a NICE appraisal. The pass will be funded from a ring-fenced £25 million budget in 2010-11. Funding for future years will be determined in the context of the next spending review.

It is important to ensure that the creation of the innovation pass does not in any way undermine the vital role of NICE in providing authoritative advice to the NHS on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health interventions. This is why medicines covered by the innovation pass will still go through a NICE appraisal after a maximum of three years. NICE will also play a key part in running the process for the pass.

The consultation seeks views on the Government proposals for the innovation pass pilot. The proposals will be revised in light of the responses received and will also be reviewed over the first 12 months of the pilot.

The pass has the potential to bring benefit to NHS patients in England providing earlier access to innovative medicines for patients with the greatest need. At the same time, the pass will facilitate the collection of further information to support a subsequent NICE appraisal, which will mean in the longer term the relevant NICE appraisals will be based on stronger evidence.

The consultation document has been placed in the Library and copies are available to honourable Members from the Vote Office.