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Cancer Drugs Fund could take on a price assessment role

NHS England consults on a series of significant changes to Fund

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NHS England has unveiled a range of changes to the way the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) works that it says will improve patient access to the most clinically effective drugs.

The plans - out now for consultation - are also aimed at encouraging pharma companies to offer “value for money” pricing of medicines.

The proposed changes to current standard operating procedures for the Fund, which was initially set up to run for three-years with a total budget of £600m, have three key elements:

  • Drugs currently available through the Fund would be re-evaluated, and those with the "lowest levels of clinical benefits" would be removed
  • The average cost of a drug (per patient, in relation to its clinical benefit) would be assessed through a new, confidential process
  • Pharma companies would be given a new option to adjust their prices in order to allow their drug, or a particular indication, to remain on the CDF list.

NHS England acknowledged the proposals represent a “significant change” to the way the Fund is managed, and it hopes to engage with the industry, patient groups, cancer charities, the general public and the NHS on the plans.

The total CDF spend for 2013-14 was £230.5m - a £30.5m overspend on its budget at the time - and spending is expected to exceed its increased budget for 2014-15 of £280m.

“Whilst this in part relates to increasing patient numbers, it also reflects the rising costs of some new individual cancer drugs,” NHS England noted.

The CDF was originally launched in 2011 as a temporary funding measure, but last year the government extended it for a further two years to 2016 and gave it an additional £400m of funds – following this up with an additional £160m boost in August.

While the extra funding will go some way to supporting the future sustainability of the fund, clinicians and cancer specialists have been clear that effective new treatments should only be added to CDF if drugs of limited clinical benefit are removed.

A four-week consultation on NHS England's proposals will run until October 31.

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

7th October 2014

From: Research, Healthcare

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