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Roche: Keep Cancer Drugs Fund until VBP shown to work

Company says uncertainty remains about impact of new UK pricing system
Roche

The UK government should put on hold plans to scrap the Cancer Drugs Fund when it introduces a new value-based pricing (VBP) system next year, according to Roche.

The pharma company has just joined forces with Sanofi and Novartis to highlight public attitudes to access to cancer medicines with a survey that found half of British adults think the NHS should be a world leader for medicines availability.

Speaking exclusively to PMLiVE, Roche said VBP's debut, now just four months away, could put patients' access to cancer drugs at risk.

Introduced in 2011, the £600m Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) has provided access for more than 30,000 patients to medicines that failed to gain a NICE recommendation but which their clinicians want them to have.

“Given the high level of uncertainty that exists over VBP, it does not seem sensible to replace a policy which is successful and has affordably enabled access to treatments for large numbers of patients,” a Roche spokesman said.

“Instead we propose that the CDF is temporarily extended as a transitional measure until any new pricing system is proven to be effective for access to cancer drugs.”

In practice the company said this would require a process for treatments currently reimbursed through the Fund to “transition to a new pricing system”, along with regular tests of VBP's efficacy. “Once proven the CDF could be wound up,” the spokesman said.

Roche, whose cancer drug Avastin accounted for nearly a quarter of all applications for CDF funding according to figures released last year, noted that VBP remains something of an enigma, despite its intention to render the Fund obsolete.

“What is now suggested is that VBP will apply primarily to new active substances licensed from 2014 onwards and will therefore have limited impact on treatments made available through the CDF,” the spokesman said.

He confirmed ministers are looking at how medicines that are currently provided through the CFD could be provided at a cost that represents value to the NHS.

He noted that Parliament has already been told that current patients' access to treatment will be protected, and that some CDF drugs might be assessed through VBP in exceptional cases, but concluded that the changeover could prove disruptive for patients.

Article by
Dominic Tyer

20th September 2013

From: Sales

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