The Welsh Government wants to ensure that Welsh patients have equitable and quick access to new medicines. It also has a duty to manage that access within a rational use of resources.
Medicines are funded by NHS Wales following guidance from two sources, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG).
If a medicine is supported by AWMSG (i.e. recommended for use, or recommended as an option for use) and is ratified by Welsh Government, there is a requirement, as with NICE guidance, to provide funding to enable implementation within two months of the recommendation in line with Welsh Government directions.
The whole AWMSG process takes around six months and can be timed so that the medicine can be endorsed for NHS Wales as soon as possible after the product is licensed within the UK. This results in their use and funding ahead of NICE guidance or in its absence.
AWMSG brings together NHS clinicians, pharmacists, healthcare professionals, health economists, industry representatives and patient advocates when considering new medicines. Welsh Government officials consider the AWMSG recommendation and advise whether funding should be made available for the use of this medicine within NHS Wales.
Funding within NHS Wales for use of a medicine that falls within the AWMSG appraisal criteria is very unlikely prior to an AWMSG appraisal. Where a medicine is not endorsed for use in NHS Wales (because appraisal by AWMSG or NICE has not progressed), Statements of Advice are issued.