OPPOSITION politicians are calling for the Scottish NHS to haggle with drug companies over the price of new treatments.
Anas Sarwar, health spokesman for Scottish Labour, has outlined a plan to improve access to the latest drugs in Scotland – including negotiating the bill with pharmaceutical giants.
Mr Sarwar said during his meetings with clinicians, patients and academics issues about accessing new treatments had been raised repeatedly.
Now in a letter to Health Secretary Shona Robison he has proposed five steps to improve the system.
A group of experts known as the Scottish Medicines Consortium analyses new medicines bought forward by manufacturers and decides if they should be prescribed by the NHS north of the border.
Mr Sarwar said presently the SMC can just accept or refuse drugs, and needed the ability to negotiate on price.
In his letter to Ms Robison he also proposed an “interim accepted period” which would allow drugs to be available while negotiations continued.
Working with the rest of the UK to increase bargaining power is also on his list, as well as much greater transparency around the SMC decision making process – which currently involves a secret ballot.
Mr Sarwar said in his letter: “Too often campaigners for access to new medicines are left disappointed, not only by the ultimate outcome but by how the decision was reached in the first place. For some families the process seems too cloaked in secrecy, centred on a lack of transparency and a refusal by government and officials to explain their decision.”
Earlier this year the Scottish Government asked former NHS Fife medical director Dr Brian Montgomery to lead an independent review of the way drugs are assessed for use on the NHS. Mr Sarwar has also sent him a copy of his plan.
Ms Robison said: “In recent years we’ve welcomed a cross-party approach to making significant reforms and investment to improve access to new medicines. As a result Scotland is now one of the top nations in the world for accessing new medicines for cancer.
“We do think that more can be done to build on the progress made to date and that’s why we’ve asked Dr Brian Montgomery to conduct an independent review on access to new medicines to report later in the summer. It is vital though that pharmaceutical companies bring forward new medicines with a fair price to ensure that access is as wide as possible.”
Apr 03, 2017 0