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CDF chair regrets undermining NICE

But Prof Clark says he wholeheartedly supports the Institute


The chair of the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) has acknowledged it undermines NICE and said he not only regrets this, but that he didn't agree with the CDF - a 'political creation' - being set up in the first place.

Professor Peter Clark told the Westminster Health Forum last week he had been persuaded to head up the CDF by its national remit and ability to tackle, successfully, he said, regional variation in cancer drug use.

“The use in the south of the country was twice that in the north, because they had completely different policies. That's now completely gone,” he told the London event.

However Prof Clark, a practicing oncologist, said he “supports everything NICE does [and] how they do it in terms of cancer drug appraisals” and that he wants to “make the whole system more joined up”.

“I got involved to sort [the CDF] out, because I don't think the present arrangement is any good. That's why we're wanting to work with NICE, pharma and charities.”

The CDF was set up in 2010 as a temporary measure with £600m of funds spread over three years to pay for drugs not recommended for routine NICE reimbursement. In 2013 it was extended for two more years and last year the annual CDF budget was raised to £280m.

Demand for CDF funding has been such this year that the CDF has already “overspent quite a lot this year” Prof Clark said and he predicted its 2014/15 bills would eventually hit £390m.

“The problem is that the CDF has been stacking up drug indications with no long term decisions as to the availability of [them]” and in doing so Prof Clark said the Fund had handed some pharma companies a “get-out-of-jail card for reimbursement”.

Prof Clark was speaking shortly after an NHS England review of the CDF dropped 16 medicines across 25 indications from its list of drugs eligible for the special funding.

Addressing the CDF's decision to cut funding, Clark said: “What we are going through is 'prioritisation', but we need to focus more on outcomes and therefore value.”

And he warned more drugs could yet be dropped from the Fund, saying: “I suspect … there will be further need for 'prioritisation' of what sits in the CDF.”

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

20th January 2015

From: Healthcare



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