What recent discussions his Department has had with representatives of NICE on increasing the capacity of the highly specialised technologies evaluation process.
My officials have regular discussions with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, of course, but we are clear that there is no fixed capacity in NICE’s HST programme. The number of drugs that it evaluates each year is driven by the pipeline of drugs expected to come to market, and we will refer any suitable drugs to it for evaluation.
There is a risk that new treatments for life-limiting conditions, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy, might not be approved by NICE, so will the Minister meet me and Muscular Dystrophy UK to discuss ways to facilitate access to treatments, as highlighted by the charity’s FastTrack campaign?
NICE has recommended the drug Translarna for use in the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy; it is now routinely available on the NHS. It is a disease that I grew up with—the friends that I grew up with did not, and I did, and this is a timely reminder of how terrible this disease can be. I would be really pleased, therefore, to meet the hon. Lady and the charity that she mentioned.
Is the Minister aware of the recent NICE draft review regarding treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms? Some 1,500 to 2,000 lives are saved yearly by NHS AAA screening. If the draft recommendations are adopted, a patient is likely to have an aneurysm erupt before treatment and 80% of patients are then likely to die. Will the Minister look carefully at this issue to avoid this unintended consequence?