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The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) has today completed a further review of the effectiveness of treatments it funds to ensure it delivers the best outcomes for patients.
Professor Peter Clark, Chair of the Cancer Drugs Fund and an oncologist, said: “There is no escaping the fact that we face a difficult set of choices, but it is our duty to ensure we get maximum value from every penny available on behalf of patients. We must ensure we invest in those treatments that offer the most benefit, based on rigorous evidence-based clinical analysis and an assessment of the cost of those treatments.”
NHS England has previously increased the budget for the CDF from £200 million in 2013/14, to £280 million in 2014/15, and £340 million from April 2015. This represents a total increase of 70 per cent since August 2014.
However, despite previous action taken to contain costs, current projections suggest that spending would rise to around £410 million for this year, an over-spend of £70m, in the absence of further prioritisation.
This money could be used for other aspects of cancer treatment or important NHS services for other patient groups.
The CDF has therefore today taken further action to control the costs while ensuring that every penny is spent on the best available drugs, at appropriate costs. In carrying out the prioritisation, all decisions on drugs to be maintained in the CDF were based on the advice of clinicians, the best available evidence, and the cost of the treatment.
Where it is proposed that a drug be removed from the CDF list for specific clinical uses, this is not necessarily the final decision.
In those cases where a drug offers enough clinical benefit, the pharmaceutical company has the opportunity to reduce the price they are asking the NHS to pay to ensure that it achieves a satisfactory level of value for money. In some cases the companies have done so and a number of these negotiations are underway.
While these actions will reduce costs further, the CDF does not expect the Fund to be back on budget this financial year. It does expect that it will be operating within its budget during 2016/17.
The recently-published independent Cancer Taskforce report recommended that NHS England work with NICE, charities, Government and the pharmaceutical industry to develop a new system aligned with NICE processes.
NHS England and NICE will shortly be consulting on a proposed new system for commissioning cancer drugs. The new system will be designed to provide the NHS with a more systematic approach to getting the best price for cancer drugs, meaning more treatments can be made available, and give a greater focus on evaluation, leading to the best drugs progressing swiftly to routine commissioning.
Patients currently receiving the drugs to be removed from the CDF in this review will continue to be able do so.