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Cancer Drugs Fund cull ‘won’t save NHS money’

New survey also finds that oncologists believe the cuts will ‘worsen patient outcomes’

pharmacist

Many cancer doctors in the UK are deeply unhappy about NHS England's decision to cut 16 drugs and 25 licences from the Cancer Drugs Fund, according to a new survey. 

Over three-quarters (79%) of the UK oncologists polled 'agree' or 'strongly agree' that the cuts will compromise their ability to make optimal treatment choices for their patients.

A similar number (74%) believe the CDF panel placed budgetary considerations ahead of what's best for cancer patients when they made their decisions about cuts to the CDF.

The online survey, undertaken by doctors.net on behalf of Sanofi UK, asked 115 senior oncologists about the cuts, with the majority (77) being prostate cancer specialists.

It found that two-thirds of prostate cancer doctors said that following the removal of Sanofi's prostate cancer drug Jevtana (cabazitaxel) from the CDF, they expect to manage prostate cancer with 'less effective treatment for longer', or move patients onto palliative care sooner.

The CDF pays £280m a year extra into England's NHS to pay for new cancer medicines not recommended by NICE, but which doctors feel can help their patients. 

The Fund was originally established in 2010 but rising drug prices and demand have meant that NHS England, which runs the CDF, can no longer afford all of the treatments on the list. 

After a three-month consultation, the governmental body announced in January that it had decided to cull 16 drugs that cover 25 indications in cancer, a process known as 'de-listing', with these medicines being officially removed next week. 

Patients already receiving the drugs can continue to do so, but no new patients will be able to access the de-listed treatments.

The vast majority of these medicines are for colorectal, breast and blood cancers, although both NICE and the CDF do recommend a number of alternative personalised medicines for all of these diseases, as well as chemotherapy agents.

The decision has been widely criticised by pharma, as their margins in the UK will suffer from the loss of these medicines, as well as charities and now doctors, who have fewer treatment options for patients. 

Tarja Stenvall, general manager for Sanofi in the UK, said: “The decision to cut cabazitaxel is out of step with clinical opinion and patient need. We have made an offer to NHS England, the Department of Health and NICE in an attempt to ensure that men get access to the treatment they need. All sides have a responsibility to work together to find a solution for patients. 

“We have asked [British Prime Minister] David Cameron to intervene to make sure we have the opportunity to discuss that solution with the CDF Panel.”

Article by
Ben Adams

10th March 2015

From: Sales, Healthcare

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