In today’s spring budget, chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced additional funding to transform the MHRA’s medicines approval process and speed up access for NHS patients to cutting edge drugs.

He announced a £10m funding package over the next two years that would be used to create a ‘swift new approval process’ for ‘the most cutting edge’ medicines and medical devices, such as cancer vaccines and AI therapeutics for mental health.

Mr Hunt said that the changes would make the UK the ‘quickest, simplest regulatory approval in the world for companies seeking rapid market access’.

He added that this was an example of ‘using our Brexit freedoms and speeding up access for NHS patients to the very newest drugs’.

Mr Hunt also said that by 2024, medicines approved in other parts of the world, such as the US, Europe or Japan, would have ‘near automatic sign-off’ by the MHRA.

Mark Samuels, chief executive of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), said that he welcomed the additional funding for the MHRA, ‘as we have had substantial concerns about delays to the routine approvals of medicines’.

He said that these delays ‘not only impact patient access to important treatments but also suspends the onset of competition meaning the NHS is not saving as much money as it could from generics and biosimilar medicines.’

PAGB chief executive Michelle Riddalls, also welcomed the funding, saying: 'We are hopeful that this additional funding will help to address the performance issues that have challenged the MHRA following its restructure and that this extra resource will speed up patient access to more treatments in the UK.'

Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) said that the announcement would be welcomed by the UK medicines sector and added that in his opinion, the measures 'were necessary to make sure that the UK did not erode its attractiveness as a key market to launch novel treatments after Brexit'.