NHS England has announced it has secured a definitive agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals to make available all three of their UK-licensed cystic fibrosis medicines.
This means NHS patients will now have full access to Orkambi, Symkevi and Kalydeco, and around 5000 people may now take up these treatments. There is no cap on patient numbers, and each and every patient in England who might benefit can now get these treatments, free on the NHS. Clinicians will be able to begin prescribing these drugs within 30 days.
NHS England has been able to finalise this negotiation because the company agreed confidential commercial terms that they say constitutes good value for British taxpayers and agreed to submit its drugs for full NICE appraisal.
Simon Stevens has written to the chair of Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee setting out more detail.
Announcing the agreement, NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens said:
“The UK has the second-highest prevalence of cystic fibrosis of any country in the world, so today is an important and long hoped for moment for children and adults living with cystic fibrosis. That fact also means that any drug company wanting to succeed commercially in this field needs to work constructively with the NHS. I’m pleased that Vertex has now agreed a deal that is good for our patients and fair to British taxpayers.
“Wales and Northern Ireland have stood alongside NHS England throughout these extended discussions. We have therefore inserted into the legal agreement that NHS England has negotiated, a requirement that the company must make equivalent terms available to the NHS in Wales and Northern Ireland, should those jurisdictions wish to benefit from them.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to extend this option for Scottish patients. That is because six weeks ago a decision was taken there to step away from coordinated UK-wide approach by ignoring the independent expert medical advice of the Scottish Medicines Consortium – their equivalent of NICE. We are however legally able to share with the Scottish Government confidential details of the improved deal we have now negotiated for England.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“Some wonderful news this morning. We’ve agreed on a deal to provide Orkambi and other lifesaving Cystic Fibrosis drugs on the NHS. The deal is great value for money for the NHS, and crucially, will improve thousands of lives. This deal – on the back of several others this summer – shows why we get some of the best value drugs in the world and is another reason to be so proud of our NHS.”
Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said:
“We are pleased an agreement has been reached between NHS England and Vertex that brings these medicines to patients. It is also welcome that the company will now re-engage with the NICE process. We look forward to working with the company and patient organisations to get ready for the appraisals, including developing the approach to the collection of evidence.”