Fast-track drugs NHS scheme launched for severely ill
The Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) was launched by the government for patients with life-threatening or debilitating conditions, allowing them access to unlicensed medication that could be beneficial to them.
Drugs that are not yet fully authorised could be accessed by patients in the United Kingdom through the NHS.
If a company believes a treatment to be a Promising Innovative Medicine (PIM), they are able to make an application to The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for approval.
The MHRA assess the benefits and risks of the drug and issue their results and its scientific opinion.
The health secretary Jeremy Hunt believes drug licensing takes “too long”. Speaking to BBC Radio 5, Hunt said: “If there’s a way we can safely make a drug available earlier to people in great need…then I think it’s right to streamline procedures.”
The general reaction to the new scheme has been mainly positive.
Chief executive of Cancer Research UK Harpal Kumar said: “Time is of the essence for many cancer patients, particularly those with more advanced diseases.”
However, The Faculty of Public Health at the Royal College of Physicians has warned that the scheme could expose vulnerable patients to untested medicines that could shorten, rather than lengthen, their life.
The EAMS will be launched in April 2014.