NICE Appraisals: Rare Diseases Treatments

Part of Backbench Business - Services for People with Autismbackbench Business – in the House of Commons at 3:08 pm on 21st March 2019.

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Photo of Liz Twist Liz Twist Labour, Blaydon 3:08 pm, 21st March 2019

Like the hon. Gentleman, I took part in the PKU diet for a day challenge. It was indeed very restrictive, even though I knew it was only for one day.

Archie is one of those who responds well to Kuvan, and last year, his parents took the difficult decision to pay to buy him the drug. That took a great deal of soul searching on their behalf, and it cost them dear—£25,000 a year, even though Archie is currently on just half a dose. They know that for many people with PKU, or for parents with more than one child who has PKU, it is simply not possible to self-fund, and they are acutely conscious of the unfairness of that. The difference that Kuvan has made to Archie is real and significant: increased concentration and energy, so that he can make the best of his education; no recurring mouth ulcers, which were a real problem; and a chance substantially to increase the number of exchanges he can have, and eat a more normal diet. For Archie, Kuvan has made a real difference.

Archie’s case, and those of many others in other constituencies, prompted us to form the all-party group on phenylketonuria, and to consider how Kuvan could be made available to those who would benefit from it. Nearly 10 years after Kuvan was approved, that treatment does not seem to have been an appraised, and in England it is still not available on the NHS. Since we set up the group, there has been a move for Kuvan to be appraised by NICE, and discussions have been held with NHS England about a managed access agreement. We were disappointed to learn just before Christmas that no agreement had been reached on that managed access agreement, and that the NICE appraisal was to be via the single technology appraisal route, and not the highly specialised technologies programme. I understand that following a legal challenge, the Department of Health and Social Care is again considering the appropriate appraisal route, and the all-party group has made representations on that point.

When talking about the NICE appraisal system it is easy to get lost in technical details—QALYs, and everything else, that means nothing to people on the street—but what really concerns people is whether or not there is a fair chance that the drugs they need will be fairly assessed and made available on the NHS.