About us

What is UK PharmaScan?

UK PharmaScan is the prime source of intelligence on new medicines, indications and formulations in clinical development for NHS horizon scanning organisations across the UK. It is a database owned by the Department of Health and hosted by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

UK PharmaScan is a key step in ensuring market access for new medicines. It enables companies to consolidate the information needed to support NHS budget and service planning according to customers’ needs. The database also allows a systematic approach to synthesising the factual information needed to underpin company market access activities.

Registered companies are requested to provide information on all new medicines, indications, formulations and in-licensed medicines in phase III clinical development or three years from UK launch, whichever is the earliest. UK PharmaScan allows companies to keep data up-to-date so that horizon scanning organisations have complete and accurate information available to them and do not have to get the information from alternative, less reliable sources.

Why is UK PharmaScan needed?

There is a need to improve the quality, timeliness and consistency of the horizon scanning information used by the NHS to enable better forward planning and faster uptake of new medicines. NHS forward planning for the introduction of new medicines ensures NHS patients benefit early from new medicines and improves uptake. Advance information enables earlier decision-making and budget allocation.

Pharmaceutical companies strive for early and rapid uptake of their medicines. To achieve this, they may currently be providing the same information on medicines in clinical development to all the UK horizon scanning organisations. By providing a single source of information in a common format, UK PharmaScan ensures high quality and consistent information is available to meet the needs of these organisations. This approach reduces duplication of effort and focuses dialogue on interpretation of information and data rather than on the provision of basic factual information.

Who uses UK PharmaScan?

Over 120 companies are currently registered to use UK PharmaScan to enter data on their new medicines.

The following six horizon scanning organisations use UK PharmaScan:

  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Horizon Scanning Centre
  • NICE Topic Selection, Medicines and Prescribing Centre, Technology Appraisal Scoping and Guidance Information Services
  • UK Medicines Information (UKMi)
  • Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC)
  • All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG)
  • Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board
  • NHS England Specialised Services,

What is UK PharmaScan used for?

The NHS needs advance information on new medicines for budget and service planning.

The horizon scanning bodies across the UK deliver reports to enable better:

  • National planning: informing processes and timetabling for Health Technology Assessment by NICE, SMC and AWMSG
  • Local planning: supporting local budget planning, formulary development and service design
  • Development of commissioning polices for new medicines

What are the benefits for the industry?

Benefits for industry include:

  • Uptake of new medicines will be enhanced because, via the horizon scanning organisations, the NHS receives consistent, timely and comprehensive information on new medicines.
  • Pharmaceutical companies will save time and resource because the need to provide the same information to multiple organisations will be reduced.
  • Contact between horizon scanning organisations and companies can be focused on the interpretation of product information.

What are the benefits for the horizon scanning organisations?

Horizon scanning organisations can go directly to UK PharmaScan for comprehensive and up-to-date information on new medicines. Without access to this information, each organisation would have to search for information that is in the public domain and may not be accurate or up-to-date. Where information is provided on UK PharmaScan, contact with companies can then be productively focused on the interpretation of product information rather than the provision of information.

What information does the database contain?

UK PharmaScan contains information on medicines in clinical development from up to three years before UK launch or the start of phase III clinical development (whichever is earlier).

Sections of UK PharmaScan records include:

  • Technology information, including information on mode of action, route of administration, formulation, dose, BNF class, likely comparators
  • Clinical trial information
  • Regulatory information, such as regulatory procedure and status, date of regulatory submission, estimated European licence date, estimated UK availability
  • Costs and budget impact information

Depending on the stage of clinical development, it may not be possible to complete every field of the record initially. This is not a problem and data can be entered and updated as new information becomes available.

Is there any quality assurance (QA) of the information provided by the companies?

All data submitted are reviewed by the UK PharmaScan team using set QA criteria. A copy of the QA criteria can be obtained from the UK PharmaScan help desk. Please check records against these criteria prior to submitting them. In the event that a record does not comply with the current QA criteria, the UK PharmaScan team will send an email notification highlighting the issue and asking that the record be corrected and resubmitted. Records are only made available to horizon scanning organisations once this step has been completed.

How is the database managed?

An Oversight and Governance Committee (including representatives from the horizon scanning organisations, pharmaceutical companies, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the NHS, the Department of Health, and a lay representative) is responsible for:

  • Ensuring appropriate governance arrangements are in place and applied
  • Developing recommendations for evolution and future developments of the database
  • Resolving disputes between any parties engaged with the database

A User Group (including representatives from the horizon scanning organisations, companies, the ABPI and the NHS) that reports to the Oversight and Governance Committee is also in place. This group focuses on improving engagement with users and addressing technical issues.

Do companies need to pay to register?

No. UK PharmaScan is provided free to all pharmaceutical companies wishing to register.

What confidentiality safeguards are in place?

Secure safeguards are in place to control access to UK PharmaScan. Access is provided only to registered pharmaceutical companies and national horizon scanning organisations.

All organisations granted access are required to sign a user agreement that sets out roles and responsibilities, including strict adherence to commercial confidentiality.

Data entered on medicines are accessible only to the company, UK PharmaScan database managers and horizon scanning organisations.

What are the implications for companies that do not register?

Participation in UK PharmaScan is voluntary. The database is the primary route for the horizon scanning organisations to access up-to-date information needed to plan for the introduction of new medicines. As such, companies choosing not to participate may find their products disadvantaged in terms of NHS planning.

In addition, companies that do not register will be contacted by each of the horizon scanning organisations and will be required to provide the same information to each, resulting in duplication.

Is UK PharmaScan easy to use?

Fields to be filled within the database appear as a mix of free text, drop down menus, and radio buttons to make the process as easy and straightforward as possible for the person completing records.

A training manual and support materials are provided to registered users to assist with data entry.

A UK PharmaScan helpdesk is also available to help with any technical issues - contact details are below.

How do I register for UK PharmaScan?

To register go to https://www.ukpharmascan.org.uk/Company/Register and complete the online registration form.

Where can I get further information?

For further details, please contact the UK PharmaScan helpdesk:

E-mail - contactus@ukpharmascan.org.uk

Telephone - 0300 323 0159


UK Pharmascan 2-page flyer

This two-page flyer provides a brief overview of UK PharmaScan in terms of what it is, who uses it and why it’s needed. It also includes quotes from each of the horizon scanning organisations on how they use the database.

UK PharmaScan Flyer

UK PharmaScan slide deck

The slide deck provides an overview of UK PharmaScan including details on how the database was developed, who has access and the data requirements. It is a useful resource for educating internal teams on UK PharmaScan.

UK PharmaScan Briefing Slide Deck