UK developers offered a crucial pass on cost scrutiny

The UK's drug development industry is being boosted by a new government plan to allow innovative therapies to be put to use without first being vetted for cost-effectiveness by the dreaded National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. NICE will select therapies that qualify for a three-year fast access program, which is being given an initial budget of $41 million.

Britain's science and health minister Paul Drayson says it's essential to get cutting-edge drugs into use--not just for the benefit of patients but also for the benefit of developers working on a new generation of drugs.

"Unless we have the means by which the most innovative breakthrough medicines can be put into clinical practice then we miss the opportunity for those breakthrough medicines to present the gold standard for clinical trials for new medicines which are coming through in those areas," he told reporters.

The UK has been working hard to come up with new ways to help developers survive the downturn. Just weeks ago it announced plans to create the UK Innovation Investment Fund, designed to help funnel $1.6 billion to small companies over the next 10 years.

- see NICE's announcement
- read the story in Reuters