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 gathers intelligence on new medicines through access to numerous medicines information sources, consultation with clinical specialists across Scotland and engagement with the pharmaceutical industry.

The annual horizon scanning report, Forward Look, is produced each October.  Forward Look features medicines expected to have actual / anticipated UK launch in the following year and highlights which of these medicines will potentially 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 detailing estimated patient uptake in Scotland and the corresponding potential budget impact.  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.

Forward Look update reports are produced twice a year to highlight any changes to the main 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 is only given to named health board personnel, including those involved in horizon scanning or financial planning, upon receipt of a signed confidentiality agreement.

Company engagement

SMC Horizon Scanning endeavours to work closely with industry to help ensure boards have advance notification of new medicines and to facilitate their rapid availability in Scotland.  We will directly approach companies throughout the year to inform the content of the Forward Look reports.

Pipeline proforma

In December each year, pharmaceutical companies are routinely contacted by the Horizon Scanning team to enquire on medicines that are likely to launch during the time period of the next Forward Look report and to complete a pipeline proforma.  When requested, please use the link below to access the Pipeline proforma template.

Horizon Scanning Forward Look 20 Pipeline Proforma

Company medicine profile

In May each year, for medicines that the Horizon Scanning team has provisionally identified as likely to have a high or uncertain budget impact, the Horizon Scanning team will request the company to complete a medicine profile.  When requested, please use the link below to access the medicine profile template.

Horizon Scanning Forward Look 20 Medicine Profile

UK PharmaScan

We support and are fully engaged with the UK wide horizon scanning database, UK PharmaScan.  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 at Resources - UK Pharmascan and at https://www.ukpharmascan.org.uk.

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.

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