What you need to know about the most powerful and controversial new medicines
The most powerful new medicines will become available in the coming weeks, and they will change how people live, says the Royal College of Physicians.
The Royal College said it is “disappointed” by the Government’s decision to shelve the new medicines, saying it was “disproportionate to the risk to patients”.
The move has been criticised by a range of organisations, including the Royal Society for Public Health, which said it was an “inappropriate use of NHS resources”.
“The drugs will not help those who are already struggling and are in urgent need of help, and the decision to halt their use unnecessarily places more people at risk,” said Prof Peter Smith, the Royal Institution of British Medical Research (RIMR).
The drugs will be rolled out across the NHS, with about 10,000 drugs to be made available by 2021.
They include the powerful immunosuppressant warfarin, which has been used in more than 600,000 people worldwide and is also a leading cause of liver cirrhosis.
They will also be rolled into the NHS by the end of next year, including a new class of immunosensitising medicines, which are approved for use in severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARS) and for use against tuberculosis and Ebola.
These are called chemoprophylaxis (CP), which is already available in some UK hospitals.
It will be made more available for the new drugs, and will be administered at the point of use, in an area of the body where there is already a high chance of infection.
Prof Smith said the medicines could save people a lot of money, and that there were “huge benefits for the NHS and for the wider health system”.
“We will see that we’re going to have chemoprocessing in the NHS,” he said.
“It’s a very important innovation that we’ve seen the Government make, which is going to help make the system better for the future, and we think it’s a hugely good move.”
The Royal Colleges of Nursing and Midwifery and the Royal London Hospitals Association have also criticised the Government for the decision.
“The Royal College is deeply disappointed that the Government has decided to shelvel the highly controversial chemoproprivirals, and it is disappointing that the government has not consulted with our members and their families before deciding to do so,” said Dr Pauline MacNamara, a professor of pharmacy at the Royal Institute of Technology.
“We do not believe that the use of chemoprivirms is in any way safe or effective, and there is a significant risk of serious side-effects for people with certain medical conditions, particularly those with SARS and TB.”
The move is part of a wider change to the NHS that was announced in March, with the introduction of a system called the “Healthy Mix”, where a new drug is approved for each country in the UK.
In 2018, the new government said that the health system would become a “single, continuous system”.
This will mean drugs will no longer be approved separately in each country.
The move comes after several countries withdrew support for chemoprivia due to safety concerns, including Russia and Brazil.
The Department of Health said it wanted to reduce the number of chemoviruses in the world by about one-third by 2025, and to “move to a system where drugs are approved by the same regulatory body, which would be the European Medicines Agency”.
“Drug approval processes must be managed in a way that ensures that the drug is safe and effective and that the UK continues to be the leading place for the production and distribution of these medicines,” said a spokesman.
“This would include working with international partners to achieve the best outcomes for patients and for our country.”
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that it was wrong for the Government to “continue to take action which puts people at unnecessary risk”.
The Government has announced plans to introduce a new regulation on new drugs to make them available through a “whole-of-government process”.
This is expected to mean the first medicines will be released to the public in 2021.
“Drugs that have already been approved in other countries and have been tested in clinical trials will be available to all patients who are entitled to them by the Medicines Act,” the spokesman said.