SPS Horizon Scanning Service

Joanne McEntee, Senior Medicines Information Pharmacist, North West Medicines Information CentrePublished
Topics: New Medicines

SPS produces a range of information to support managed entry of new drugs into the NHS, to assist organisations in developing medicines management policies and to inform prescribing decisions when a product has been launched.

The Service is provided via the SPS UK Medicines Information network and the lead centre is the North West Medicines Information Centre.

If you can’t find information you need in the resources listed below or need more detailed or tailored support in the format of spreadsheets, etc. please contact the service at nwmedinfo@nhs.net or 0151 794 8113. Use our flyer to let your colleagues know what we offer.

If you need help understanding horizon scanning terminology, see our useful guide.

If you want to learn more about the development process for medicines, see our presentation. Or if you want to know where to find information on a newly launched medicine, see our question & answer document.

If you work for a pharmaceutical company, please consider submitting information about your drugs in development to UKPharmascan. This resource, owned by the Department of Health and hosted by NICE, will help ensure earlier and more effective decision making and faster uptake of innovative new medicines for NHS patients. For more information about UKPharmascan, see the flyer below.


SPS website

The SPS Horizon Scanning (HS) Service maintains the New Medicines  section of the SPS website.

If you know the name of the new medicine you want information about, type this into the search box. A suggested list of options will appear – select the appropriate one.

If you do not know the name but would like to find out about new medicines under a particular category, click on the ‘New Medicines’ subheading under ‘Medicines’ on the home page and further refine your search using the ‘Specialty’ filter on the right hand side e.g. ‘diabetes’.


How is content of the New Medicines section of the website decided?

The HS Service continually scans data sources to identify new drugs/licence changes/formulations, etc. in development, with a focus on those that will have implications for the NHS.  There are over 1,000 new medicines pages on the SPS website. Monographs containing brief details such as name, company, stage of development, pharmacology and epidemiology are created if the new medicine:

  • is likely to reach the UK market, and
  • is in a phase 3 clinical trial or is being fast tracked, and
  • is new or has a potential major licence change or a is being developed in a new formulation.


NOTE: Please log in to see restricted information, such as predicted launch dates and patent expiry. You will need an NHS password to be registered with the SPS website and access this restricted information.


As the new medicine progresses through licensing, more detailed information is added. At the time of launch the monographs are the most detailed. Post-launch no further detail is added unless new medicines evaluations or NICE documents are published. The new medicines monographs are deleted 18-24 months post launch.


What other information is produced by the SPS HS Service?

SPS Prescribing Outlook documents (please log in to access)

The annual Prescribing Outlook Series is intended to assist NHS budget holders and those involved in prescribing planning assess potential impact of new drugs on the local health economy. It is an Excel spreadsheet that includes information on new medicines with launches planned over the next 3 years and on marketed drugs with new major indications. It is usually published in September every year.

Prescribing Outlook – Cost Calculator is an implementation and budget planning tool for new medicines or licence extensions and national guidance for the next financial year (excluding cancer medicines). It allows crude calculations of potential costs of prescribing changes for a local population. It is usually published in late October every year.

A PowerPoint presentation (coming in the new year) contains an overview of major prescribing developments with a primary care focus expected in the next 18 months. It is produced using information from Prescribing Outlook, and usually published after Christmas.


New Medicines News (open access)

New Medicines News is published monthly (usually in the first week of each month) and highlights recent significant medicines regulatory changes.

To find these type ‘New Medicines News’ into the search box.


New product evaluations (open access)

SPS produces a list of UK new product evaluations (medicines and devices) in production, or published in the previous three years. It is published monthly (usually in the first week of each month).

To find the latest copy type ‘New product evaluations’ into the search box or click here.


New product launches (open access)

Once a year, SPS produces a list of new products and formulations launched, and licence changes approved, in the previous year. It is published every February.

Please note this list does not include every generic product launched in the UK in the previous year.

To find it, type ‘New product launches’ into the search box or click here.


These documents can be used by NHS staff in the course of their duties. Please acknowledge NHS Specialist Pharmacy Services if used in any publication. Non-NHS staff should seek permission before use.


Administrator use only: Access to New Drugs Online and National Patent Database.