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Asthma: Drugs

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 13948, tabled on 10 June 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of extending the NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative's (AAC) rapid uptake programme for asthma biologic therapies in response to the impact of the covid-19 outbreak on the work of the AAC.

Answered on

22 June 2021

The Department, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and NHS England and NHS Improvement set the objective of reaching the upper quartile of uptake in relation to comparator countries for the five highest health gain categories during the first half of the Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access, which was published in 2019. This objective is not intended as a target for the prescription of medicines. Medicines prescribing, including the highest health gain categories, remains a decision between the clinician and patient in line with guidance and recommendations made by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

When selecting the countries for international comparison of uptake of the five highest health gain categories, NHS England and NHS Improvement looked for countries with similar health systems and populations to England. NHS England and NHS Improvement have commissioned an independent third party to develop an objective methodology to compare uptake rate between countries.

The Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) worked closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement in the identification of potential five highest health gain categories for support through its Rapid Uptake Products programme. Following the open selection process, asthma biologics were selected for tailored support to increase their adoption in the National Health Service for the treatment of severe asthma as part of the 2021/22 programme. The Academic Health Science Networks are also providing leadership and support to NHS organisations to implement changes to transform severe asthma services locally and improve access to these medicines. Support for the programme will continue to be kept under review.