About us - UK Pharmascan
What is UK PharmaScan?
UK PharmaScan is a database of information on new medicines, indications and formulations in the pharmaceutical pipeline. Pharmaceutical companies enter data from 3 years before UK availability or start of phase III clinical trials (whichever is earlier) up until availability in the UK. NHS England and horizon scanning organisations use the data for:
- pathway and system planning
- identification of transformative medicines for the Accelerated Access Collaborative
- development of Health Technology Appraisal (HTA) schedules by NICE, SMC and AWMSG
- production of briefings and resources for the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales
- local planning such as formulary development, service design and budgeting
- informing national planning and prioritising engagement with companies.
Which horizon scanning organisations have access to UK PharmaScan?
All of the UK’s national horizon scanning organisations and NHS England use UK PharmaScan to enable early engagement in planning and preparing the NHS for the introduction of new medicines.
Horizon scanning is a vital tool to understand the future healthcare environment and UK PharmaScan is a key source of data to help NHS England plan for future healthcare interventions. UK PharmaScan is therefore an essential first step for manufacturers in their market access preparations.
The NIHR Innovation Observatory (NIHRIO) uses UK PharmaScan to ensure that information on new and repurposed medicines, that are actively being monitored, is up-to-date and reliable. This allows us to produce timely and accurate horizon scanning intelligence to notify NICE and other national organisations to support decision-making and planning for the future.
NICE uses UK PharmaScan to track licensing information as part of the topic selection, scoping and assessment stages of the Technology Appraisal and Highly Specialised Technologies programmes. This ensures we are able to produce national guidance that enables funding and patient access to medicines within a few months of marketing authorisation.
UK PharmaScan is a key source of information in the production of our annual horizon scanning report, Forward Look, which informs financial planning for emerging new medicines in all Scotland’s Health Boards and National Specialist Services. It also highlights new medicines, indications and formulations for future health technology appraisal in Scotland.
Information in UK PharmaScan is key in helping us support health boards and trusts across NHS Wales plan for new medicines, indications and formulations, in particular those with significant budgetary and/or service delivery implications.
How is UK PharmaScan funded?
NHS England and horizon scanning organisations each pay an equal annual fee to cover the costs of maintaining the database and any required future developments. The sponsoring department in government is the Office for Life Sciences.
How is UK PharmaScan managed?
An Oversight and Governance Committee 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.
The Committee includes representatives from:
- NHS England
- the horizon scanning organisations
- pharmaceutical companies
- the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
- the NHS
- the Office for Life Sciences.
It also has a lay representative and an independent Chair.
A UK PharmaScan User Group supports the committee by identifying and addressing user issues, making recommendations for technical enhancements, and undertaking communications programmes to optimise pharmaceutical company engagement.
Who manages the technical aspects of UK PharmaScan?
Technical management of UK PharmaScan is the responsibility of NICE Digital Services, following a procurement process for the website development and maintenance. NICE Digital Services reports to the UK PharmaScan Oversight and Governance Committee and is an active member of the UK PharmaScan User Group.
The 2019 Voluntary Scheme for Branded Medicines Pricing and Access between the pharmaceutical industry and UK Government
The importance of timely and accurate information is reinforced in the 2019 Voluntary Scheme which restates the shared ambition that the NHS must have complete and accurate information about products coming through the pipeline (paragraphs 3.4-3.9). Pharmaceutical companies are required to provide timely, accurate and comprehensive information on products, indications and formulations in development.