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Cancer charities criticise NICE's 'last-century methodology'

Group of 15 claims many new prostate cancer drugs will now ‘struggle to gain approval’

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Medical charities in the UK have warned that revised plans for approving cancer drugs will result in fewer being available to patients.

The group of 15 charities make the assertion in a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, claiming that relying on National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) appraisals for adding drugs to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) is a mistake.

NICE will start overseeing the £340m fund from July, and insists its new plans will give the UK the fastest approvals of effective cancer drugs in Europe.

Not so, say the charities, which write in the Daily Telegraph newspaper that many new drugs will now 'struggle to gain approval'. 

They want a review of the NICE appraisal process for medicines - describing it as 'last-century methodology' - and suggest NICE's current system will leave thousands of patients unable to access new therapies.

The 'yes, no or maybe' system implemented by NICE will mean that the agency will issue draft guidance on new cancer drugs before they are approved for marketing. 

Those in the 'yes' category will be eligible for NHS funding from the point of approval, while those in the 'maybe' category will be considered for inclusion in the CDF and - if added - will be reviewed every two years.

One of the signatories of the letter is Beating Bowel Cancer, which said in a statement: "Ultimately, this means that new drugs will now be assessed for use on the Fund by the same NICE system … that failed to make clinically-proven drugs available to NHS patients and led to the CDF being established as a short-term measure in the first place."

"Putting NICE back in the driving seat of the new fund, while they still use outdated methods of assessing drugs, will take us right back to the dark ages for cancer drugs funding,” said the charity's chief executive Mark Flanagan.

The signatories want Cameron to fulfil a pledge made by the coalition government in 2001 to review and reform the appraisal process for all medicines.

NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said that the agency's review process for cancer drugs is already "more generous" than for medicines used in other diseases. 

He also said it is now up to the pharma industry "to show the same flexibility on cost to NICE as they have been showing to NHS England in its recent negotiations with companies for drugs already in the CDF".

Article by
Phil Taylor

16th May 2016

From: Regulatory

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