NHS England reinstates treatments to Cancer Drugs Fund

Five treatments in seven indications have been reinstated to Cancer Drugs Fund, as a result of negations between pharma companies and NHS England, and following pressure from patient groups.

NHS England has backtracked following the publication of an update to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) list in September, which had identified 17 medicines for 25 indications for potential de-listing.

The secondary breast cancer drug, Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine), will remain available through the CDF for new patients, as a result of negotiations between Roche and NHS England.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, says: “More than 42,000 people joined our call on Roche to reduce the price of Kadcyla, and keep it available through the Cancer Drugs Fund, so we’re pleased that our voices have been heard.

“Now we’re looking to the Prime Minister to show leadership on this issue. A better, more flexible system will benefit the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare professionals, and – most importantly of all – the patients whose lives depend on these treatments.

“But we mustn’t let today’s victory on Kadcyla distract from the bigger job at hand. It’s time for the government to act. Patients cannot wait any longer for a system that works.”

Roche was unable to come to a price agreement for Avastin (bevacizumab) for breast cancer, although the drug was reinstated for another indication in cervical cancer. Baroness Morgan says: “It’s encouraging to learn that Roche and NHS England have been able to come to a deal, but patients relying on other delisted drugs for future treatments will no doubt be devastated. There’s a bigger problem with our drug access and pricing system that will not go away.”

Janssen’s Imbruvica (ibrutinib) will also remain on the Cancer Drugs Fund list for the treatment of two types of blood cancer: chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

Mark Hicken, managing director of Janssen UK, says: “We are delighted that, together with NHS England, we have been able to find a solution that means ibrutinib can continue to be made available to patients who need it. This decision comes as a result of our collaborative approach and our relentless commitment to ensuring that the most effective new treatments reach the patients who need them. We continue to contribute to the ongoing reforms that we hope will bring a more long-term solution to the issue of cancer drugs funding in England.”

No patients who are currently receiving treatment through the Fund will have their treatment discontinued. The latest revised list of cancer drugs available via the Fund applies to new patients only.

Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, says: “It’s great news that some drugs that we thought could be lost from the Cancer Drugs Fund are going to remain available for patients – and at a more affordable cost to the NHS. However, we now have a situation where some cancer drugs have been off, on, off and now back on the list of available drugs. It’s extremely confusing, and for people with cancer it’s also distressing, with such uncertainty about which drugs are going to be available for them.

“Today’s announcement highlights the need for a unified, long-term and sustainable system of drug evaluation, which puts innovation at its heart and makes a single judgement based on patient benefit and cost-effectiveness, rather than the present duplication in functions between NICE and NHS England. We need clarity where there is currently confusion.”

Lilian Anekwe


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