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Hepatitis: Drugs

Question for Department of Health

UIN HL4376, tabled on 21 December 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether NHS England intends to reassess the cap on new Hepatitis C treatments for patients; and if not, why not.

Answered on

6 January 2017

The guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in relation to new direct acting antivirals specifically requires Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs) to prioritise hepatitis C patients on the basis of highest unmet clinical need. NHS England’s commitment to treat 10,000 patients in 2016-17, increasing to 12,500 in 2017-18 and rising to 15,000 in 2021 is in line with NICE’s estimate of activity included in the costing tools published to support implementation of the guidance. Each ODN has a number of treatment slots available each month to treat eligible patients. This is known as the monthly treatment run rate, and it ensures the expansion of treatment takes place equitably across the country.

The High Court has considered NHS England’s approach. Its judgement in September 2016 stated “a monthly run rate is not an arbitrary cap but a legitimate way of giving effect to the guidance”.

The planning approach for hepatitis C is set out in the NICE Technological Appraisals 363, 364 and 365.