NHS increases budget for cancer drugs fund but remove 25 meds from list

Some life-extending drugs to be denied to NHS patients in England as fund overspends

Cancer Drugs Fund: some life-extending drugs to be denied to NHS patients in England as fund overspends.

The NHS Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) yesterday (Monday) published the outcome of its review of drugs included in the Fund.

The budget for the CDF will grow from £200 million in 2013/14, to £280 million in 2014/15, and an estimated £340 million from April 2015. This represents a total increase of 70 per cent since August 2014.

The CDF review announced yesterday also will create projected savings of approximately £80 million through a combination of negotiated price reductions and improved clinical effectiveness. If action had not been taken to review the CDF drugs list, the Fund is projected to have grown to around £420 million next year, necessitating offsetting cuts in other aspects of cancer treatment such as radiotherapy, cancer diagnoses, cancer surgery, and other important NHS services for other patient groups.

A national panel – comprising oncologists, pharmacists and patient representatives – independently reviewed the drug indications* currently available through the CDF, plus new applications. They carried out a detailed assessment of the evidence, looking at clinical benefit, survival and quality of life, the toxicity and safety of the treatment, the level of unmet need and the median cost per patient. In cases where the high cost of a drug would lead to its exclusion from CDF, manufacturers were given an opportunity to reduce prices.

The result of the review is that 59 of the 84 most effective currently approved indications (clinical ‘uses’) of drugs will rollover into the CDF next year, creating headroom for new drug indications that will be funded for the first time. These are Panitumumab, a treatment for bowel cancer; Ibrutinib, a treatment for Mantle cell lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma; and Ibrutinib for use in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

Following these changes, four important patient protections are in place:

  • Any patient currently receiving a drug through the CDF will continue to receive it, regardless of whether it remains in the CDF.
  • Drugs which are the only therapy for the cancer in question will remain available through the CDF.
  • If the CDF panel removes a drug for a particular indication, some patients may instead be able to receive it in another line of therapy or receive an alternative CDF approved drug.
  • Clinicians can apply for their patient to receive a drug not available through the CDF on an exceptional basis.
Professor Peter Clark, Chair of the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) and a practising oncologist, said:

We have been through a robust, evidence-based process to ensure the drugs available offer the best clinical benefit, getting the most for patients from every pound.

“There were drugs that did not offer sufficient clinical benefit so we simply cannot go on funding those. There were others that offered some benefit but were costly and I am pleased that a number of pharmaceutical firms worked with us to make prices more affordable, saving millions of pounds that can now be reinvested in other treatments.

“These are difficult decisions, but if we don’t prioritise the drugs that offer the best value, many people could miss out on promising, more effective treatments that are in the pipeline.”

Further information

  • * An ‘indication’ is a medical term for a condition or set of symptoms for which a drug is provided – a drug may be used for several indications.
  • Most cancer drugs are routinely funded outside of the CDF. The CDF – set up in 2010 and currently due to run until March 2016 – provides a supplementary funding route for some other cancer drugs. NHS England is working with cancer charities, the pharmaceutical industry and NICE to create a sustainable model for the commissioning of chemotherapy.
  • Following public consultation, action is being taken to ensure a sustainable future for the CDF and to get maximum value for patients by ensuring every pound is spent on the most effective drugs available.
  • NHS England has set up an appeals process by which pharmaceutical companies can challenge the process of decision making.
  • A national taskforce will produce a refreshed five year cancer plan for the NHS, headed by Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK.

Sources and more information

  • NHS increases budget for cancer drugs fund from £280 million in 2014/15 to an expected £340 million in 2015/16, NHS News, 12 January 2015.
    Outcome of consultation on proposed changes to Cancer Drug Fund Standard Operating Procedures, NHS News, 12 January 2015.
  • Cancer Drug Fund decision summaries, NHS News, 12 January 2015.
  • Cuts to cancer treatments announced, BBC News Healtn, 12 January 2015.
  • Cancer Drugs Fund: Life-extending drugs to be denied to NHS patients in England as fund overspends, The Independent, 12 January 2015.
  • 25 cancer drugs to be denied on NHS, The Telegraph, 12 January 2015.

Stand with Breakthrough BC and demand a fair price for life-extending drugs

Call for the UK Government to demand a fair price from pharmaceutical companies and create a system of access and approval that will ensure cancer patients get the drugs they need at prices the NHS can afford

The Facts

  • Over the last two years, a number of secondary breast cancer drugs have been rejected for use on the NHS on the basis of cost.
  • These drugs have been proven to give women with secondary breast cancer more freedom from side effects and, crucially, more precious time with their families.
  • Some of these drugs have been made available through a special fund – the Cancer Drugs Fund – in England. But they are not available in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.
  • The system isn’t working. And breast cancer patients and their families are paying the price. We can’t afford not to act.

Help Breakthrough BC change the System

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Call for the UK Government to demand a fair price from pharmaceutical companies and create a system of access and approval that will ensure cancer patients get the drugs they need at prices the NHS can afford.
  • Every breast cancer patient should have access to the best available treatments, wherever they live in the UK.
  • We urgently need to change the way the system works so that all women in the UK with breast cancer get the best treatments, at prices the NHS is able to pay.
  • The pharmaceutical industry needs to work with government to make sure the prices it sets for new drugs are affordable to the NHS.
  • The UK Government must fix the system and with a general election approaching, we need all three major parties to commit to tackling the problem.
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Sources and more information:
    Breakthrough BC, Join our Campaign.
  • Cancer Drugs Fund ‘papers over cracks’, says charity,
    BBC News, 29 October 2014.
  • NHS Cancer Drugs Fund ‘no longer fit for purpose’, charity warns, independent, 29 October 2014.

UK Health Secretary promises £80M Boost to Cancer Drugs Fund for the next Two Years

David Cameron’s flagship cancer drugs fund receives an £80million boost but clinicians will assess whether treatments represent value for money for the first time

image of UK Health_Secretary_Jeremy_Hunt
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked NICE to work with cancer charities in the hope that more life-extending drugs will be approved for us.

Thousands more cancer patients in England will be offered vital treatments in a £80 million boost to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), the UK Department of Health said today.

The fund, which has helped more than 55,000 cancer patients since it was set up four years ago, will be increased from £200 million a year to £280 million a year for the next two years to improve access to drugs currently deemed too expensive.

The increase in funding means two new cancer drugs will be made available and many more patients with rare conditions will benefit from life-extending drugs recommended by their doctor.

More Information:

  • Hunt demands shake-up to stop NICE blocking life-extending drugs for cancer: Health Secretary will also announce 40% increase in resources to pay for treatments,
    DailyMail, 27 August 2014.
  • Cancer drugs fund subject to ‘value for money’ assessment for first time, The Telegraph, 28 Aug 2014.

A UK £400m Fund will enable a Scheme providing Life-enhancing Cancer Drugs to continue until 2016

The CDF will be extended until 2016

Cancer drugs fund 'to be extended' until 2016
The CDF will be extended until 2016

An emergency £200m-a-year fund for life-enhancing cancer drugs is to continue until 2016 – after the NHS’s rationing body failed to clear any medicines sent for approval in the past year – the prime minister has announced.

The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) was set up in 2011 to help patients in England access certain drugs before they get approval for widespread NHS use – and/or pay for treatments denied to NHS patients by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Read Cancer drugs fund ‘to be extended’ until 2016
BBC News Health, 28 Sept 2013

Read NICE under fire for veto of ELEVEN new cancer drugs as £2m fund to tackle illness is extended, 28 Sept 2013