Hitting the ground running: The first 100 days
Hitting the ground running: The first 100 days

In Conversation with NHS England’s Medicines Value and Access Team

Words by:
Senior Account Director
May 28, 2024

WA Communications hosted an insightful roundtable discussion with NHS England’s Medicines Value and Access (MVA) leadership team, led by Fiona Bride alongside Jack Turner, and were joined by Mike Bell, Chair of South West London Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Senior Adviser to WA Communications.

This roundtable offered representatives from the pharmaceutical industry an opportunity to delve into MVA strategic priorities and explore collaborative opportunities at ICS level to deliver patient access to innovative medicines.

Setting the Stage: Priorities for the Future

The session kicked off with a clear outline of MVA focus areas:

  1. Driving Efficiencies: Streamlining processes to optimise medicines use and secure taxpayer value.
  2. Horizon Scanning: Preparing the system for future innovations.
  3. Addressing Inequities: Ensuring fair access to medicines across diverse populations.

Key Takeaways: A Vision for Progress

From this dynamic discussion, the WA team captured four critical takeaways, highlighting the pathway to a more responsive and innovative healthcare system.

  1. The Commercial Framework for New Medicines – firm or flexible?

The imminent Commercial Framework review aims to clarify its flexibilities, focusing on commercial arrangements including indication-based pricing (IBP) and combination therapies. The consultation presents a pivotal opportunity for the industry to shape long-term policy.

Industry input is vital to determine how explicitly these commercial flexibilities should be defined. While detailed criteria might prove limiting, broader guidelines could lead to ambiguity. It’s confirmed that eligibility considerations will remain case-specific, but NHS England’s move away from viewing indication-based pricing as “exceptional” is a welcome shift. There is also recognition that the changes can’t be strictly held to cost neutral parameters.

A second consultation on the Framework in 2025 will aim to take a more holistic view of the system. This includes how, through working with partners, regulatory, health technology appraisal (HTA) and uptake pathways could be streamlined to facilitate faster access. A consultation on increasing the threshold of the Budget Impact Test (BIT) to £40m from £20m will also be launched imminently.

  1. Earlier Engagement – how and when

NHS England underscored the importance of early engagement from the pharmaceutical industry. Proactive involvement in strategic pipeline discussions, facilitated through channels like NHS commercial surgeries or the Innovative Licensing and Access Pathway (to be refreshed in ILAP 2.0), is crucial. This early alignment ensures the health system is well-prepared for new medicines, ultimately accelerating patient access. The key question NHS England seeks to address: What does a new medicine launch mean for workforce, patient pathways, outcomes, and system interactions? Early dialogue on data requirements for indication-based pricing agreements is particularly beneficial, speeding up implementation when systems are in place.

  1. Strategic Long-term Thinking on the Horizon

The looming General Election and the NHS’s ongoing productivity efforts have temporarily shifted focus to necessary short-term financial objectives. However, there is optimism that post-election, the NHS will have the bandwidth to embrace bold, multi-annual strategies essential for integrating groundbreaking pharmaceutical and technological advancements. Should political tides turn in favour of a Labour government, their systemic reforms will necessitate close collaboration between the NHS and the pharmaceutical and med-tech sectors to realise ambitious strategic goals.

  1. Focus on Community-Based Care

The roundtable discussion recognised the need to enhance the uptake of products and initiatives suited for community settings, given the prioritisation of preventative and anticipatory care. NHSE is keen to understand the unique requirements for effective implementation in these settings and is open to industry insights. While immediate efforts are directed towards community care, addressing long-term issues in primary care prescribing remains on the agenda. The industry is encouraged to share experiences and solutions ahead of formal consultations, noting that this broader challenge is earmarked for the second consultation in 2025.

WA Communications: Bridging the Gap

WA Communications, with its expertise in strategic communications and public affairs, is dedicated to supporting clients at the intersection of policy, government affairs, and healthcare communications. Our health practice is adept at navigating complex landscapes to help clients achieve their strategic objectives.

For a deeper discussion on partnering with the NHS and navigating this evolving landscape, reach out to us at Together, we can drive forward innovative solutions for a healthier future.


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