Costly cancer drugs may be cut from UK special funding list

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Costly drugs UK fund_oncology news aystraliaBy Sarah Boseley – The Guardian.

Reassessment of dozens of medicines, including Kadcyla and Avastin, follows overspending of the £600m Cancer Drugs Fund.

More than 40 cancer drugs being paid for out of the government’s Cancer Drugs Fund are to be reassessed to decide if they are worth the money.

Drugs such as Kadcyla, the new Roche offering for advanced breast cancer costing £90,000 a patient, and Avastin, for breast and bowel cancer, could be dropped from the list, so new patients will not be able to get them through the NHS unless the companies lower their prices. Existing patients will continue to get them. Ten new drugs will also be evaluated.

All the cancer drugs in the fund have been turned down for general NHS use by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which has said the benefit they offer patients is not enough to justify the high price asked by manufacturers.

The Cancer Drugs Fund was set up in 2010 in fulfilment of a manifesto pledge in the last election by the Conservatives in response to the outcry by cancer patient groups when drugs are rejected by Nice. But the £600m fund is heavily overspent, even though it has been given an extra £160m over the next two years until March 2016. NHS England has been talking and consulting with Nice, patient groups and pharmaceutical companies on change. All parties agree the fund is unsustainable in its current form. In effect it undermines the value-for-money judgments that Nice makes on cancer drugs and its existence removes the incentive for a pharmaceutical company to agree a price drop.

The charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said it was encouraging that changes are being made to improve the way the Cancer Drugs Fund operates and make better use of the money available. “However, we’re deeply concerned that several very effective breast cancer drugs appear on the list of drugs at risk of delisting due to their high price,” said Caitlin Palframan, senior policy manager…read more.


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