Horizon scanning

Our horizon scanning function, introduced in 2005, is an established element of SMC's remit. The aim is to improve financial planning at health board level through the provision of early intelligence on new medicines in development. 

The horizon scanning team, comprising pharmacists, health service researchers and management accountants, gathers intelligence on these medicines through engagement with clinical specialists across Scotland as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

The annual horizon scanning report, Forward Look, is produced each October.  Forward Look reports feature medicines expected to have actual / anticipated UK launch date between July of the year the report was published and June of the following year with the potential to have a high net impact on the drug budget and/or significant implications for service delivery. The report is accompanied by a set of financial spreadsheets that can be adapted locally as required and are used in conjunction with the Forward Look report. The spreadsheets include an estimate of uptake of the new medicine in the target population and the corresponding potential budget impact in year 1 and at steady state. The budget impact estimates take account of the anticipated costs and savings associated with the new medicine; for example, this might involve offsetting the costs of a displaced medicine.

Information on medicines in development can change rapidly. Two updates are therefore produced to highlight any change in information on significant developments included in the report. This could include information on a change to an estimated UK launch date, development discontinuation of a medicine or notification of additional new products anticipated to come to the UK market in the Forward Look report timeframe.

Due to the commercial in confidence nature of the content, access to Forward Look reports, financial spreadsheets and updates is through a secure website. Access to the secure website is only given to named health board personnel, including those involved in horizon scanning or financial planning, upon receipt of a signed confidentiality agreement.

We support and are fully engaged with the UK wide horizon scanning database, UK PharmaScan (see document in side panel). UK PharmaScan is a prime source of information on new medicines, indications and formulations in the pharmaceutical pipeline for all horizon scanning organisations across the UK, including SMC. We would encourage all companies to register to ensure that your products are included in our Forward Look reports and therefore factored into future financial and service planning cycles within NHSScotland.  Further information on UK PharmaScan can be obtained here: https://www.ukpharmascan.org.uk/login.

Contact the horizon scanning team: his.smchorizonscanning@nhs.scot.

Guidance on horizon scanning

SMC has produced a guidance document that aims to give stakeholders a detailed overview of its horizon scanning processes and outputs, including standard documentation. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has contributed to the development of these processes through the SMC User Group Forum. It is hoped that the document will foster a better understanding of the horizon scanning processes and lead to more efficient and effective interactions between SMC and the pharmaceutical industry to produce higher quality information for NHSScotland.

The aims, processes, timelines and outputs of the horizon scanning initiative are described within the guidance document, with an emphasis on how pharmaceutical companies can optimise their contribution. The document also outlines the type and sources of information that are of value to SMC in providing health boards with a realistic forecast of the potential budget impact of new medicines.