Deal reached to provide lifesaving cystic fibrosis drugs on NHS
A “long hoped-for” deal has been reached to provide lifesaving cystic fibrosis drugs on the NHS which could help thousands of sufferers.
Around 5,000 NHS patients will now have full access to Orkambi, Symkevi and Kalydeco, following an agreement between Vertex Pharmaceuticals and NHS England.
Vertex said patients will be able to access the drugs on prescription within 30 days.
The breakthrough follows a row which dragged on for more than three years between the pharmaceutical firm and the NHS over the cost of Orkambi.
The drug is said to slow decline in lung function – the most common cause of death for people with cystic fibrosis.
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said the deal was a “long hoped-for moment”, while Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the deal was “great value for money” for the NHS.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was a victory for campaigners who “stand together and take on the powerful”.
Mr Hancock tweeted: “Some wonderful news this morning: We’ve agreed a deal to provide Orkambi and other lifesaving Cystic Fibrosis drugs on the NHS. Huge thanks to the many campaigners who have worked so hard, and to Vertex & the NHS.
“I know personally how important this is – and I’ve met many sufferers. Things like this are the reason I do this job.”
“For those who say the system doesn’t work, this proves them wrong. We can get lifesaving drugs at a fair price, thanks to Nice and the NHS. We should all reject calls to undermine that.”
NHS England said the deal was made possible by the company agreeing confidential commercial terms that constitute good value for British taxpayers.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has backed the agreement, and Vertex will submit its drugs in due course for their appraisal.
Mr Stevens said: “The UK has the second highest prevalence of cystic fibrosis of any country in the world, so today is an important and long hoped-for moment for children and adults living with cystic fibrosis.
“That fact also means that any drug company wanting to succeed commercially in this field needs to work constructively with the NHS.
“I’m pleased that Vertex has now agreed a deal that is good for our patients and fair to British taxpayers.”
Mr Corbyn tweeted: “This is life changing for everyone with cystic fibrosis in our country, they’ve waited years for this drug.
“A victory for all the campaigners who have taken on big pharmaceutical companies’ greed and Government inaction.
“When we stand together and take on the powerful, we win.”