Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, has welcomed a government plan to speed up the way new treatments are introduced on the NHS. The plan takes forward several recommendations from last year’s Accelerated Access Review – which examined how advances in medicine could be made available to patients faster – and could have major implications for future dementia treatments.

Among the actions announced is the creation of a new ‘Accelerated Access Pathway’ for selected breakthrough treatments and medical technologies that fill an unmet need, transform patients’ lives or dramatically improve efficiency. This pathway would streamline the regulatory process to allow these treatments to be made available up to four years earlier – but the report warns that any new medicines leading to increased costs for the NHS would need to be offset by other, cost-saving treatments. Meanwhile, companies would also be expected to offer new treatments and technologies to the NHS at the best possible value for money.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Today’s announcement marks a real step in the right direction and could have major implications for people with dementia. With no treatments yet available to stop or slow the diseases that cause dementia, there is a huge unmet need, and we hope the approach announced today will ensure that people with dementia will not have to wait for medical advances to reach them. The ambitions outlined today have the potential to transform the way breakthrough treatments are delivered to the people who need them, and it’s vital that their views are at the centre of any decision-making about which treatments are classed as ‘breakthrough’.

“We recognise that new treatments for dementia could pose a challenge for NHS budgets, so early discussions between the NHS and drug companies will be crucial to allow our health services to plan ahead. At Alzheimer’s Research UK it’s our mission to bring about the first life-changing treatment for dementia by 2025, which is why we will be working to support these discussions and develop solutions to this challenge.”