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Cancer Drugs Fund axes 16 treatments after overspending

Medicines from Roche, Celgene, Merck KGaA and Janssen among those dropped

NHS England will cut a further 16 therapies across 27 indications from the list of those eligible for funding from its ring-fenced Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) budget from November, after dropping 16 drugs covering 25 indications at the start of this year.

Merck KGaA's Erbitux (cetuximab), and Janssen's Imbruvica (ibrutinib) are among the latest casualties of the stricter line being taken with the CDF by NHS England - whose latest round of de-listings will further highlight access problems for oncology treatments.

Celgene's Imnovid (pomalidomide) and Revlimid (lenalidomide), for which the CDF received 1,068 and 498 funding requests respectively April 2013 and March 2015 are also among those to be de-listed from November and will not be available to myeloma sufferers who have not undergone two prior therapies.

Patients in Scotland will nevertheless still be able to receive both treatments and the All Wales Medicine Strategy Group (AWMSG) recently approved Imnovid for use on the NHS.

Wim Souverjins, general manager at Celgene UK & Ireland, said: “We are hugely disappointed that both Revlimid and Imnovid will be removed from the CDF.

“The way in which cancer drugs are commissioned for use in England is not fit for purpose. By arbitrarily removing drug funding using a scoring system that fails to recognise that in some cancers there are still high levels of unmet need, NHS England has created a scenario where life sciences investment and innovation in the UK is being put in genuine jeopardy.”

Souverjins told PMLiVE that the NHS is “shooting itself in the foot as the UK could become significantly less attractive for big pharma companies as an investment opportunity".

He also said NHS England's decision would have “serious financial consequences” for Celgene's operations. 

“A lot of people don't understand that when we generate revenue, it's because we are investing 30% back into R&D, which is double the average.

“In order to fix this problem, we have to get into a collaborative knot - today's decision is a unilateral one coming only from NHS England.”

Other drugs that have been delisted include Abraxane (paclitaxel) - also from Celgene, and the first approved pancreatic cancer treatment in 17 years, and Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab), the biggest selling oncology drug, which loses three indications in the latest round of cuts, having already lost three indications earlier this year.

Roche has been the biggest beneficiary of the CDF, given that it specialises in cancer drugs, but has had many rejections by NICE over the past few years. 

Dr Daniel Thurley, medical director of Roche, said: “A stop and start approach to providing access to highly-innovative, life-changing cancer medicines is of deep concern to patients.

“Nothing in the clinical effectiveness of our medicines has changed since NHS England last reviewed them in January. No matter how much of a saving we offer, some medicines will not be retained on the CDF list from November due to NHS England's review criteria.”

The fund was launched in 2011 by David Cameron, who said that patients should no longer be denied treatment on grounds of cost. However, due to demand, the fund has consistently gone over its initial £200m budget.

There has been continued uncertainty about the CDF's future and recently NHS England said it could hand over the fund's remit to the cost-effectiveness body NICE.

Full list of September 2015 decisions on Cancer Drugs Fund delisting

Article by
Nikhil Patel

7th September 2015

From: Healthcare



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