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NICE launches 'innovation pass' plan for rare disease drugs

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NICE has launched a consultation on plans to speed up access to new drugs for patients with rare conditions.

Under the proposals, an “innovation pass” will allow patients with rarer diseases access to innovative new drugs which are not yet appraised by NICE. As the number of patients using these drugs is small, the lack of current evidence available means that NICE is not able to conduct a full assessment for their use on the NHS.

Drugs issued with a pass during a three-year pilot of the scheme will be licensed and given to patients, with data then collected on their efficacy and cost effectiveness. This data will contribute towards a future NICE appraisal.

NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said: “We recognise that for a small number of very promising new treatments, the evidence available may not reveal their full potential benefits for patients.

“Where there is a high risk that a NICE appraisal of a new treatment at the point of its first use in the NHS might underestimate its benefits, providing the opportunity to gather more evidence and making the treatment available before undertaking an appraisal is the right thing to do,” he said.

The consultation on the innovation pass pilot scheme will close on 8 February 2010. Input and comments are welcome from all groups including stakeholders, industry, the NHS and patient groups.

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