Severely ill to get early access to ground-breaking drugs

People suffering from serious illnesses including cancer and dementia will be able to try new medicines years before they reach the market, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.

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Experimental drugs have to clear 'second stage trials'

Severely ill patients will only be given early access to experimental drugs after they have passed "second stage clinical trials", the Health Secretary has told Daybreak.

Jeremy Hunt sought to reassure severely ill patients they would have access to potentially groundbreaking medicine only if it was deemed "safe" by UK Government experts.

Watch: 'We want world's biggest bank' of trial drug volunteers

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'We want world's biggest bank' of trial drug volunteers

"We would only want this to happen for drugs we're confident are safe," Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said of a new "fast track" scheme to allow severely ill people access to drugs not yet on the market

Read: Fast track drugs plan announced for severely ill

He said people diagnosed with serious illnesses "very often want to volunteer" to take part in clinical trials, adding that he wants the UK to have the world's "biggest bank" of volunteers willing to take part in such trials.

Fast track drugs scheme 'warmly welcomed'

A cancer charity has welcomed a "fast track" plan to get drugs into the NHS for people suffering from serious illnesses, before they have been granted a licence for use.

Time is of the essence for many cancer patients, particularly those with more advanced disease. It can mean the difference between life and death.

Therefore this scheme, which has at its heart the potential to bring promising new medicines to patients faster, is to be warmly welcomed.

The scheme should also make it more attractive for life sciences companies to conduct their development activities in the UK, which will bring a multitude of benefits to the population.

– Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK

Read: Fast track drugs plan announced for severely ill

Fast track drugs plan announced for severely ill

People suffering from serious illnesses including cancer and dementia will be able to try new medicines years before they reach the market, the Health Secretary has announced.

People suffering from serious illnesses will be able to try new medicines years earlier, the Health Secretary has announced. Credit: PA

Jeremy Hunt published details of a "fast track" plan to get drugs into the NHS before they have even been granted a licence for use.

Paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, the scheme means experts will carry out a rapid assessment of a drug before labelling it a "promising innovative medicine" before the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency gives it the go-ahead.

Read: Statins found to have 'almost no side effects'

Mr Hunt said: "This ground-breaking scheme will provide cutting edge medicines earlier, give hope to patients and their families and save lives. And as part of our strategy for life sciences it will create more jobs and opportunities for people, helping secure a better future for our country."