It has been decided that the Off-patent Drugs Bill 2014-15 will make no further progress. The Bill’s objective is to promote a more consistent approach to off-label use of medicines in the UK in particular the use of repurposed drugs. It will require the Secretary of State to take steps to secure licences for off-patent drugs in new indications; to require the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to conduct technology appraisals for off-patent drugs in new indications; and for connected purposes.
The Bill was originally presented to the House of Commons on the 2nd July 2014 for the first reading. The second reading of the Off-patent Drugs Bill 2014-15 took place on the 7th November. The government stated that they support the intention of promoting greater use of off-label medicines however there was disagreement on whether the mechanisms proposed by the Bill are the right ones. George Freeman, MP, announced during the debate that the government will launch a strategy and a work plan, with the specific target of increasing the rate of use of off-label medicines and will have open discussions with all the key agencies and stakeholders in the sector, in particular medical research charities and the AMRC. The suggested plan is to focus efforts on NICE guidance and on supporting clinicians to adopt innovation. During this process the government plans to look at the reasons why there may be delays in translating new evidence and research into clinical practice, including why some clinicians are reluctant to prescribe drugs outside of their licensed indications when many others are not, and to consider what further arrangements might be put in place to assist in implementing new evidence into care pathways. As Mr Freeman says this is a problem across the system, with variable uptake of NICE guidance. The Bill was stood over at its second reading because fewer than 40 MPs were present.
The full route through Parliament can be seen below: