NHS Commercial Framework for Medicines consultation published

People sitting around a desk with laptops and tablets to show NHS Commercial Framework for Medicines published for consultation

NHS England has published the NHS Commercial Framework for Medicines for consultation. NHS England has a significant role to play in supporting patient access to clinically and cost-effective medicines by offering enhanced commercial arrangements where appropriate and practical.

The 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access committed NHS England to publishing a commercial framework, setting out more operational detail on the commercial arrangements with industry.

The Commercial Framework:

  • Outlines the purpose and principles on which NHS commercial medicines activity will be based
  • Defines the roles and responsibilities of those involved in commercial medicines activity and detailing how pharmaceutical companies can engage with the NHS
  • Clarifies the routes to routine commissioning in the NHS, and where commercial activity can occur in those routes
  • Outlines commercial flexibilities, and circumstances where they could be considered.

The draft framework was developed by NHS England with the help and input of partners including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Department of Health and Social Care and the Office for Life Sciences. It sets out existing arrangements and provides further operational detail to complement the Voluntary Scheme.

NHS England would like to hear views on this framework to ensure it has been informed by a broad range of voices. Those wishing to respond to the consultation can complete the online survey. The consultation closes on 10 Jan 2020.

In a blog to accompany the consultation, Blake Dark, Commercial Medicines Director of NHS England said: “There are no new proposals in this document, but it is designed to be a guide on how best to work fairly with the NHS and reflects what we have learned over the last year which has allowed us to put deals in place for Spinraza for spinal muscular atrophy, Hemlibra for haemophilia, and most recently Orkambi and Symkevi for cystic fibrosis. These are all cutting edge treatments that will improve the lives of thousands of children and adults.

“My team does not get involved in all decisions about medicines funding. For example, some new medicines go through the NICE appraisal process without major issues. Where we do get involved, we will never offer any pharmaceutical company a blank cheque, but we can offer flexibility – in particular for those medicines where clinicians tell us that these are a priority.

“This includes medicines such as those used to treat Hepatitis C. By working in partnership with clinicians and pharmaceutical companies we believe we can be the first country in the world to eliminate Hepatitis C. This first-of-its-kind agreement, with Gilead Sciences, Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and AbbVie, will see the three drug companies working together – and supplying these curative medicines at a price fair to taxpayers – to proactively identify and treat people who may be unaware they have hepatitis C.

“It’s this kind of approach that marks the NHS apart from most other healthcare systems around the world. Our large purchasing power means we can get access to ground-breaking new treatments for patients, while ensuring we can stretch our pound to cover as many patients as possible and get some of the best prices in the world.

“Our recent work on adalimumab through the Medicines Value Programme working with pharma, clinicians and patient groups, has allowed us to save the NHS around £300m – this is money that will be reinvested back into patient care.

“The publication of the draft commercial framework is another milestone in working collaboratively with industry to secure fair and responsible deals for patients and I look forward to hearing your views.”