The Impact of New Medicines in the NHS: 70 Years of Innovation

Sampson, C., O'Neill, P. and Lorgelly, P.

Consulting Report
August 2018

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The NHS in England and Wales came into existence on the 5th July 1948. It provided coverage for a range of approved medical and pharmaceutical interventions. This resulted in rapid growth in the use of medicines and improved public health with its associated improvements in economic growth and development.

This OHE Consulting Report demonstrates the contribution and impact of medicines to the health economy in the UK throughout the 70 year history of the NHS. Through interviews with experts we identified a shortlist of the most important medicines to have been brought to market, and from a review of the literature and evidence base we attempt to quantify the benefits of these key medicines in terms of health and economic outcomes. We additionally consider the broader impact of medicines and drug development to the health care environment.

Our interviews with experts identified a shortlist of ten important new medicines introduced in the NHS in the last 70 years. These were selected from a longer list of 37 on the basis of the frequency that they were cited by interviewees and the strength of feeling about the magnitude of their positive impact in the NHS. Our evidence search identified a variety of benefits encompassing improvement in clinical outcomes, survival benefits, quality of life improvement, greater health service efficiency, and wider societal impacts. Our analysis of the interviews identified seven themes, each representing a factor that has played an important role in determining the impact of new medicines. These themes highlight a variety of ways in which policymakers can facilitate positive impact from new medicines. Their role should be considered in the use of medicines in the NHS over the next 70 years and for new medicines currently in the development pipeline.