Last Friday MPs debated the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill for the first time when it had its second reading in the House of Commons.
The Private Members Bill, which has been introduced by Chris Heaton Harris MP, draws on some on the aims of the Medical Innovation Bill which was championed by Lord Saatchi during the last Parliament. In particular, the Bill aims to encourage doctors to pursue innovative treatments without fear of litigation and establish a database of innovative medical treatments for doctors.
Since the Bill was first introduced, Bloodwise has been actively contributing to the consultation process and we appreciate the inclusive approach Chris Heaton-Harris MP has taken whilst developing the Bill. However, while we support the principle that patients should have access to the best available treatments as quickly and easily as is safely possible, we do not see the need for new legislation in this area.
We would rather the debate around medical innovation focus on how we can improve the clinical trials process to ensure that more patients can benefit from the newest and most effective medicines. We need Government to provide structural and cultural support to bring charities, as significant research investors, together with the NHS, industry and academia to share knowledge and tackle the barriers to innovation - something we hope the Accelerated Access Review will address.
As a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) we have supported a joint statement which explains why we oppose the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill in its current form.
Despite the strong opposition to the Bill voiced during the debate – most notably from Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Health Select Committee, and Heidi Alexander, Shadow Secretary of State for Health – the Bill passed second reading by a vote of 32 to 19. While we are disappointed that a majority of MPs did not oppose the Bill at this stage, we will continue to work with other AMRC members to ensure the Bill does not have unintended consequences for patients and medical research.