NHS England has today announced it has secured a definitive agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals to make available all three of their UK-licensed cystic fibrosis medicines.

This means NHS patients will now have full access to Orkambi, Symkevi and Kalydeco, and around 5000 people may now take up these treatments. There is no cap on patient numbers, and each and every patient in England who might benefit can now get these treatments, free on the NHS. Clinicians will be able to begin prescribing these drugs within 30 days.

NHS England has been able to finalise this negotiation because the company agreed confidential commercial terms that constitute good value for British taxpayers and agreed to submit its drugs for full NICE appraisal.

The agreement provides access to all three drugs for all current licensed indications, as well as future licence extensions too.

Important moment for cystic fibrosis patients

NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “The UK has the second highest prevalence of cystic fibrosis of any country in the world, so today is an important and long hoped for moment for children and adults living with cystic fibrosis.

“That fact also means that any drug company wanting to succeed commercially in this field needs to work constructively with the NHS. I’m pleased that Vertex has now agreed a deal that is good for our patients and fair to British taxpayers.”

NICE has also been able to back the agreement, and a binding condition of the deal is that Vertex will submit its full portfolio – including in due course its new triple therapy – to NICE for comprehensive appraisal.

The company has also agreed to a flexible commercial mechanism which will ensure continued patient access to these three medicines following completion of the NICE appraisal.

Commercial terms of the agreement are confidential, but the approach achieved is consistent with NHS England’s other managed access agreements reached with the pharmaceutical industry.

Simon Stevens has today written to the chair of Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee setting out more detail.