NHS Commercial Framework for Medicines consultation period open until 10 January 2020

The NHS Commercial Framework for Medicines industry engagement event took place in Manchester on 18 December 2019 and London on 20 December 2019. This event was designed to bring the commercial framework to life for industry, and provided an opportunity for formal comments on the draft framework.

In the 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access policy paper, NHS England committed to publishing a commercial framework that defines commercial arrangements with industry. The draft framework has now been developed by NHS England with input from multiple stakeholders, including NICE, the DHSC, and the Office for Life Sciences.

The framework aims to clarify the routes to routine commissioning in the NHS, where commercial activity can occur in these routes, and the circumstances under which commercial flexibilities may be considered. It sets out the expected behaviours of those involved in commercial medicines activity, and details how pharmaceutical companies can engage with the NHS. The framework does not obviate the need for NICE appraisal; rather, it states that NHS England and NICE will work collaboratively to help industry engage with the NHS for technology appraisals.

It is hoped that earlier, more purposeful engagement between industry, NHS England, and NICE will help pharmaceutical companies to get their approach right first time, for example by seeking scientific advice from NICE or insight from the Office for Market Access. In addition, timelier discussion may allow the NHS to prepare for obstacles such as necessary service reconfigurations or affordability challenges that may delay patient access to potentially transformational therapies.

The consultation period for the NHS Commercial Framework for Medicines closes on 10 January 2020.