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Cancer Drugs Fund overhaul promises faster access to drugs

Proposals suggest turning CDF into 'managed access' fund

Proposed changes to the UK's Cancer Drugs Fund that will provide a "fast-track route" to NHS funding have started a 12-week consultation period.

The proposals suggest turning the CDF into a 'managed access' fund that will provide new treatments to patients before they have enough data to support a recommendation for routine prescribing.

Provisional coverage would be decided based on a preliminary assessment by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), after which 'real world' evidence would be collected for up to two years on how well the drugs work in practice.

The approach would see early access decision incorporated into NICE's workflow and avoid duplication of effort, according to NHS England, and would set clear entry and exit criteria for drugs included in the scheme.

The CDF - originally set up in 2011 to fund cancer drugs in England that are not currently approved by NICE - has provided a lifeline for thousands of cancer patients but was always meant to be a stop-gap measure while the UK developed a value-based pricing (VBP) scheme for medicines.

The failure of the VBP initiative has meant that the CDF has extended much longer than originally anticipated and it has careened over budget, swallowing more than £1bn ($1.5bn) in public money since its inception.

A few weeks ago a National Audit Office report concluded the CDF is unsustainable in its present form, and dozens of drugs have been cut from the scheme in a bid to contain escalating costs.

"England is currently allocating an increasing share of the cancer budget to treatments that are less cost-effective, towards the end of life," says the proposal document. "The impacts of this are being felt further down the cancer pathway."

Preliminary reaction to the proposals seems positive with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) saying it was encouraged by the announcement.

"NHS England and NICE have listened to the industry on a number of important issues - the process will be NICE led and managed and will allow a period of conditional acceptance of new medicines while they are given time to prove their worth," said the organisation's acting chief executive Alison Clough.

Similarly, the Institute of Cancer Research's chief executive, Prof Paul Workman, said the proposal "signals a welcome move toward a more rational and unified system of drug evaluation."

The proposals could speed up evaluations and increase the number of drugs available for consideration under end-of-life criteria, he added.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: "Over the next five years we're likely to see many new cancer drugs coming on to the worldwide market, some of which will be major therapeutic breakthroughs and some of which will turn out to offer little extra patient benefit but at enormous cost.

"The new CDF offers a route for sorting out the wheat from the chaff, so that patients in England get faster access to the genuinely most promising new treatments."

Article by
Phil Taylor

20th November 2015

From: Regulatory



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