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Disappointment for pharma with new Cancer Drugs Fund list

Bayer the only firm to win a reprieve from the CDF drug cull

Roche's AvastinNHS England will continue its de-listing of oncology treatments from the Cancer Drugs Fund as it rejects all but one of the appeals against a cull of new medicines.

Of the four companies that appealed against the de-listing process - which will see these medicines no longer funded by the £280m a year Fund - only Bayer's stomach cancer drug Stivarga (regorafenib) is being re-admitted to the list after being originally axed at the start of the year.

NHS England announced in January that it will no longer fund 16 drugs covering 25 cancer indications from the CDF, which was set up in 2010 to pay for drugs not recommended by NICE, or being appraised by the Institute.

The Fund has been haemorrhaging money in the past year with an overspend of around £100m in 2014/2015, prompting the NHS to cut back on treatments not deemed cost-effective.

But four companies took exception to this cull and started an appeal process against the de-listing process. This was put on hold during the UK's General Election period from March until May, but NHS England has now completed its appraisal of these appeals.

While Bayer has seen reprieve the rest were not so lucky, with Eisai's breast cancer drug Halaven (eribulin), Lilly's lung cancer therapy Alimta (pemetrexed) and Roche's blockbuster multi-cancer licence drug Avastin (bevacizumab) all having their appeals rejected.

Those patients who have been taking these medicines will continue to do so, NHS England said, but no new patients will be able to start regimens on the drugs under a CDF funding stream.

Lilly told PMLiVE in a statement that it was “deeply frustrated” by the decision not to keep Alimta on the list.

Phil Knott, UK director for Lilly oncology, said: “The Cancer Drugs Fund Panel upheld a decision made based on a flawed process at a very real cost to the many people who could have benefited from this treatment.

“We believed the Cancer Drugs Fund was committed to putting patient need and clinician support at the heart of their decision making, but they have gone against the views of hundreds of members of the clinical community who signed a petition in support of this medicine. The CDF is failing cancer patients at the end of their lives.”

Lilly added that it is “currently considering its position in relation to this decision”.

CDF's future

The CDF is meant to be ended in April next year with more than £1.2bn being spent on new oncology products deemed too expensive by NICE.

There has been no official word coming from the new government as yet, but many in the industry believe it will likely be extended for this Parliament given that the issues over market access for these new drugs have not been fully addressed.

The ABPI's director of value and access Paul Catchpole said the UK pharma trade body was “very disappointed” that a number of cancer medicines that were previously available will no longer be accessible to newly-diagnosed NHS cancer patients and those patients whose disease has progressed.

He added: “The ABPI believes that the CDF re-evaluation process is fundamentally flawed and the CDF remains a sticking plaster covering a seeping wound. A sustainable solution is urgently required. This involves creating a holistic and joined up system encompassing both NHS England and NICE in order to transform the way that these medicines are evaluated and commissioned.”

Article by
Ben Adams

26th May 2015

From: Sales, Healthcare

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