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Thursday 27th October 2016

Long delays in drug approval

16th May 2012

A new study has claimed that patients are often left waiting the best part of a decade for new drugs to become available on the NHS.


Much of the delay, according to the work carried out by the Office for Health Economics, arises because of the time it takes for them to be approved for use on the NHS.

In some case, it takes up to nine years for drugs to be approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The findings, which were obtained by GP newspaper, found that it takes five years on average for a drug to be approved by NICE from when a manufacturer obtains a licence and often longer, because NICE does not begin its assessment until a treatment has been on the market for more than a year.

Charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society and Cancer Research UK have criticised the findings.

The Alzheimer’s Society said that when a new drug becomes available, NICE guidance should be issued as quickly as possible.

Heather Walker of Cancer Research UK said: “There needs to be a balance between giving NICE enough time to make the right decisions and ensuring that drugs get to patients as soon as possible.”

However, NICE hit back with a spokesman saying the organisations did not “recognise most of the conclusions reached by the Office for Health Economics report.”

It said the report includes in its average figures some drugs that received their licences before NICE was established in 1999 and their inclusion in it “skewed” the findings.


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