Fifteen cancer charities have said they are "deeply concerned" about new plans for approving innovative cancer medicines for the NHS in England. In a letter to the prime minister, the charities said many drugs would "now struggle to gain approval". The medicines regulator has rejected this and said drugs would be approved faster than anywhere else in Europe. The dispute is over planned changes to the Cancer Drugs Fund - a special pot of money just for cancer medicines. It currently pays for innovative drugs that have been deemed too expensive for the NHS as a whole.
The three divisions, announced Wednesday, include Innovative Medicines, which will focus on biological science and other technologies needed to address an aging population. The Established Medicines business will handle generic and off-brand medication. Lastly, the Consumer Healthcare business will handle over-the-counter medicines.
Pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline has said it wants to make it easier for manufacturers in the world's poorest countries to copy its medicines. The British company said it would not file patents in these countries. Chief executive Sir Andrew Witty said he wanted to take a "graduated" approach to the company's "intellectual property" based on the wealth of nations around the globe. Experts have described the plans as "brave and positive". GSK hopes that by removing any fear of it filing for patent protection in poorer countries it will allow independent companies to make and sell versions of its drugs in those areas, thereby widening the public access to them.
Patients in the UK could face delays getting new drugs if Britain withdraws from the EU's medicines regulator, ministers have been warned. Former UK regulator Sir Alasdair Breckenridge said new cancer drugs could be among those affected. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he did not expect the UK to remain within the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The Department for Health said Brexit offered new opportunities to bring timely access to new drugs. Sir Alasdair told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The UK market compared to the European market of course is small and they may decide not to come to the United Kingdom.