A pilot scheme to improve patient access to innovative new drugs not available on the National Health Service has been launched in the UK.

The scheme will give patients a special “Innovation Pass”, which will allow patients suffering from rarer diseases access to new and innovative drugs that have not been appraised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

During the three-year pilot, the innovation pass will also allow for data to be collected on the effectiveness and cost of the new drugs, providing information that has so far been insufficient for appraisal due to the small amount of patients on the treatments.

UK Health Minister Mike O’Brien said that this consultation will help patients with the greatest need to benefit from exciting new innovative drugs.

“The Innovation Pass pilot will help collect the data needed to demonstrate that such drugs, which would not otherwise be available, are making a big difference,” O’Brien said.

The Innovation Pass pilot will be funded using a specially set-aside £25m budget in 2010/11 and will be run in partnership with the Office for Life Sciences and NICE in co-operation with the life sciences industry.

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By GlobalData

Drugs included on the scheme will be licensed, and will have to meet drug eligibility criteria developed and applied for the Innovation Pass by NICE. All drugs included on the pilot will then be submitted for NICE appraisal at the end of the three years.