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England’s Cancer Drugs Fund receives new funding boost

Gains an extra £160m to pay for drugs not recommended by NICE
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Thousands more people with cancer in England are set to have access to new treatments after the Government announced a £160m boost to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

The Fund was set up in 2010 as a temporary arrangement to pay for cancer treatments not available for mainstream NHS funding as they had not been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The Government created an initial fund of £600m (£200m each year) up to the end of 2013, when new legislation on the pricing of medicine was to be introduced, removing the rationale behind the Fund.

However, this new legislation wasn't the overhaul to a value-based pricing (VBP) system that many expected and the UK Government confirmed in September 2013 that special arrangements had been made to continue the CDF with funding of £200m each year up to March 2016.

Following today's announcement this funding will increase by £80m a year, meaning the Fund - which has helped 55,000 people so far - can be used by even more NHS patients in England.

At the same time the Department of Health (DH) has also changed the way funding is allocated. Experts will now evaluate the listed drugs to ensure patients are offered the most effective drugs for their condition and allow new drugs to be added. Drugs that are deemed the least clinically effectively will have their availability restricted.

Cancer drug pricing in the UK

The wider system of cancer drug pricing is also up for debate, and the DH said that NHS England is working with the pharma industry, NICE and charities to examine the NHS commissioning process for new cancer drugs.

This was welcomed by both the industry and by the charity sector, both of which praised the extra £160m in funding but acknowledged a more long-term solution was needed.

Stephen Whitehead, CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), said: “Whilst the CDF continues to have an incredibly positive impact for NHS cancer patients, and we welcome this latest cash injection, however it is only a short term solution and ultimately the NICE value assessment process needs to be reformed urgently so that more innovative cancer medicines can routinely be made available for NHS patients.”

This message was backed by Mark Flannagan, CEO of the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, who said: “It's vital that we have a sustainable solution for access to new cancer drugs. If common sense is to prevail then all sides must play their part so new effective treatments reach the people who need them most."

He added: “NICE and the pharmaceutical industry must show greater flexibility and a genuine willingness to work together in the interests of all cancer patients.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

28th August 2014

From: Sales, Healthcare

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