Price cuts bring 14 Cancer Drugs Fund treatments into routine NHS use

pharmafile | March 3, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing CDF, NICE 

NICE has revealed that it has reached the halfway point in its review of the old Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) with the goal of making its drugs available for routine use. So far, with the latest recommendation this week of Merck’s Erbitux (cetuximab) and Amgen’s Vectibix (panitumumab) for bowel cancer, the institute has approved 14 drugs across 18 indications for use across NHS England and Wales.

The wave of approvals has been made possible due to NICE’s negotiation with pharma companies including Pfizer, Bayer and Novartis, who agreed to reduce the prices of their drugs or even provide further evidence for their efficacy. Any price cuts remain confidential.

In total, the institute is reviewing 24 drugs across 33 cancer indications in the CDF; the remaining ten drugs will continue to be appraised, with final judgement still pending.

NICE’s review of the CDF began in May last year, with the institute threatening to drop conditional support of drugs on the fund whose prices were unsustainably high, with Chief Executive Sir Andrew Dillion stating: “They have to recognise the economic circumstances the NHS is in and do their bit.”

With NICE’s announcement of the good news, Dillion commented: “The system is working well. Companies are cooperating well with our reviews and the good news for patients is that more cancer drugs than ever are being recommended for routine use. As drugs move off the CDF, we free up funding for new drugs coming down the pipeline, so patients will have faster access to promising cancer drugs and the NHS makes the most of its resources.”

But Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, believes that the real problem of exploitative pricing still looms: “Even with these discounts, there are fundamental problems with the way cancer drugs are priced. We need to make sure drugs are priced at a level that makes cancer treatments affordable for the NHS, rather than companies pricing drugs at what the market can bear.”

Matt Fellows

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