Last Friday the Medical Innovation Bill was debated at the House of Lords for its Third Reading, following amendments made at Committee and Report Stages. The Bill, which Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research has closely followed since it was first introduced, has now passed the Lords and will move to the House of Commons for further scrutiny and debate.
The Medical Innovation Bill has provided a great platform for the research community, doctors, patients and policy makers to debate medical innovation.
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research have been actively contributing to this process. Together with the Association for Medical Research Charities, and a number of leading medical research charities, we advocated an amendment which was passed during Third Reading. The amendment, which was successfully moved by Lord Hunt, makes it a requirement that doctors who innovate under the Bill must record and share the results – good and bad – of their treatments on an open register for the benefit of other doctors and patients.
As a significant funder and supporter of research across the country we want to make sure that the best possible environment exists for research and medical innovation in the UK. Our view is that clinical trials are gold standard for evaluating new medicine, sharing knowledge across diseases and driving medical innovation. The success that we have had in increasing overall survival to over 90% in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children, would not have happened without clinical trials.
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research welcome the spirit of the Medical Innovation Bill in seeking to promote medical innovation and ensuring every patient gets the best possible care when there is nothing left to try. However, we are concerned that the Bill does not identify the real barriers to medical research and may have unintended consequences that will harm innovation. In particular, we remain concerned that the Bill may discourage patients and their clinicians from participating in clinical trials by encouraging the provision of novel treatments on an ad hoc basis. Without properly controlled studies, it is not possible to develop the evidence of efficacy necessary to support wider adoption of new treatment in the NHS.
There is still a long way to go before the Bill can become law, so together with the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) we will continue to seek further opportunities to strengthen and improve the Bill when it is debated in the House of Commons.
The full text of the Third Reading debate is available here.
The latest version of the Bill is available here.
Image copyright House of Lords 2012/Roger Harris. Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament.