A total of £12 million will be released to health boards with immediate effect, with a further £4 million being made available later. The fund will provide additional support of £16 million annually to help health boards in Wales speed up access to medicines recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG).
Under the new system, all health boards in Wales will be required to make a NICE or AWMSG recommended medicine available no later than two months from the date the final guidance is published, shortening the maximum amount of time before which a health board must make a treatment available by a third.
In respect of NICE recommendations we will go even further, health boards will now be expected to introduce medicines recommended by NICE at the first publication of the final guidance, rather than waiting for the final Technology Appraisal guidance published after the appeal period.
In combination this means in future all NICE and AWMSG recommended medicines will be available up to eight weeks earlier.
Since April this year fifty-five new medicines have been recommended by NICE and AWMSG. These medicines treat a wide range of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, cancers, epilepsy, heart disease and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
All of these diseases are life threatening and/or debilitating. The £12 million being released to health boards, through the new treatment fund, will support the fast and consistent delivery of all medicines that have been recommended by NICE and AWMSG.
Vaughan Gething said:
"Our new treatment fund will deliver swift access to innovative new medicines to support people with life-threatening conditions in Wales.
"New medicines and treatments are being discovered, developed and tested on an almost weekly basis, offering the hope of a cure or a better quality of life for people with a range of life-threatening illnesses. This significant investment will help remove uncertainties around funding for new treatments in the future and help the Welsh NHS prepare sustainable plans for the introduction of new medicines.
"We remain committed to an evidence based approach to the introduction of new medicines based upon the expert and authoritative advice of NICE and AWMSG. Many of these innovative medicines will provide a significant step forward in the treatment of diseases where there has been either, at best, limited treatment options or in the worst case scenario, no treatment options other than symptom alleviation.
"We expect all patients, for whom access to a new recommended medicine is appropriate, to be able to access the treatment as quickly as possible and within two months."
“I am delighted that we’ve been able to bring forward this fund. It will make a huge difference, ensuring NHS Wales is in the best possible position to provide the latest approved drugs”.