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Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 171383, tabled on 6 September 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps the Government has taken to ensure that (a) negotiations between Vertex Pharmaceuticals and NHS England on access to Orkambi for people with cystic fibrosis proceed without further delay and (b) an agreement is reached between the two parties.

Answered on

14 September 2018

It is crucial that patients have access to the most effective and innovative medicines at a price that represents value to the National Health Service. While Ministers are keeping a very close eye on negotiations, it is the responsibility of NHS England as the commissioner and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as the independent body that is responsible for making recommendations on whether drugs and other treatments represent a clinically and cost-effective use of NHS resources, to work with Vertex to agree a deal to secure the best outcome for patients and a price for Orkambi that is fair and responsible.

NHS England has proposed its best offer ever for a drug. This offer, in the region of £500 million over five years, is the largest ever commitment of its kind in the 70-year history of the NHS. This would guarantee immediate and expanded access to both Orkambi and the drug Kalydeco for patients who need it. Whilst it is disappointing that Vertex has not taken up NHS England’s offer, we are pleased to hear that it has responded positively to NHS England’s and NICE’s latest offer to meet. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Lord O’Shaughnessy), the Secretary of State for Health (Rt. hon. Matt Hancock MP) and I have and continue to urge Vertex to reconsider this fair offer.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care