The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for the Welsh Labour Government to view spending on modern medicines as an investment, rather than just a cost. The party believes that this should be done by extending the Health Technologies Fund to support the development of new medicines and to fund research into a stratified medicine approach.
In budget negotiations in 2012, the Welsh Liberal Democrats proposed their idea of an innovative treatments fund, which the Welsh Government agreed to take forward with the creation of a £25million Health Technologies Fund to fund medical equipment and IT over three years. While the party welcomes the introduction of the fund, it is still pushing for it to be expanded to include new medicines.
The Rarer Cancers Foundation (RCF) says the approval rates for medicines were 7.05 per 100,000 in Wales, compared to 29.10 per 100,000 in England.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats are also calling for a stratified medicine approach. Stratified medicine means looking at large groups of patients to try and find ways of predicting which treatments diseases are likely to respond to.
Commenting, Kirsty Williams leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
"The Health Technologies Fund is a Welsh Liberal Democrat achievement. However, it can go further. We believe this fund should offer patients better access to new medicines that are not routinely available on the Welsh NHS. In the short term this could make a huge difference, but for the longer term the fund should be used to help research into a stratified medicine approach.
"There is no hiding from the fact that we have a poor record in Wales of prescribing access to new treatments. Both Scotland and England have allocated funding to support the development of new medicines, leaving Welsh patients often unable to access the medicines they need.
"The Welsh Labour Government needs to change its mind-set with regards to medicines: they should be seen as an investment, rather than a cost. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe that stratified medicines could have a dramatic impact on survival rates for conditions like cancer.
"The total spent on new medicines in primary care in 2011 accounted for only 0.5% of NHS Wales' expenditure. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe this must be much higher if we are to compete effectively for clinical trials at a global level and make Wales' NHS a more attractive place for clinicians to work in."