NHS England strikes deal to make innovative breast cancer drug routinely available on the NHS

NHS chief Simon Stevens has today announced that NHS England has struck a deal with Roche, also endorsed by NICE, to make the breast cancer drug Kadcyla available for routine use on the NHS.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool, Simon Stevens said: “NHS cancer survival rates are now at record highs, and this year we’re going to be making major upgrades to modern radiotherapy treatments in every part of England.

“NHS England is also taking practical action to drive greater value from taxpayers growing investment in modern drug treatments, and that work is beginning to bear fruit.

“Today’s announcement on Kadcyla shows that for companies who are willing to work with us, there are concrete gains for them, for the NHS and most importantly for patients able to get new and innovative drugs. In this case, tough negotiation and flexibility between the NHS and Roche means both patients and taxpayers are getting a good deal.”

Kadcyla, also known as trastuzumab emtansine, would have cost around £90,000 per patient at its full list price. It is licensed to treat HER2-positive breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body, cannot be surgically removed and has stopped responding to other treatments. NHS England and Roche have agreed a confidential arrangement for reimbursement of the drug.

Treatment gives patients an average of an extra 6 months of life, with improved quality of life and less side-effects, allowing them to live much more active lives than other treatments.

Richard Erwin, General Manager at Roche, said: “Close collaboration between Roche, NHS England and NICE has resulted in NICE recommending Kadcyla as a cost effective treatment. This is a positive example of how solutions can be reached when all parties show flexibility.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “This is exceptionally good news for so many breast cancer patients. We are absolutely delighted that tough negotiation and flexibility by NICE and NHS England, and the willingness of Roche to compromise on price, have ensured that thousands of women with incurable breast cancer will be given precious time to live.

“We want to congratulate and thank the hundreds of thousands of women, men and families across the country for their relentless campaigning to ensure this crucial lifeline drug is routinely available to those that need it.

“This outcome also demonstrates vital signs of life for the drug appraisal system in this country. Today’s landmark decision bodes well for patients looking for reassurances that modern cancer treatments can get through to NHS patients more quickly and can bring transformational improvements in patient outcomes for the future.”

Rejected by NICE in 2015 as too expensive for routine funding, Kadcyla has been available via the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) since 2013. Since NHS England’s redesigned CDF opened for business, NHS England and NICE have been reviewing all the treatments supported through the CDF, including Kadcyla, to see whether they should be funded routinely on the NHS.

Today’s announcement means it will be permanently funded, removing uncertainty patients and giving doctors a further treatment option.

In 2016/17 NHS England was given the flexibility to redesign and renegotiate the original Cancer Drugs Fund. New fast track funding for the most promising new cancer drugs assessed by NICE,  matched by rigorous price negotiation by NHS England, has now for the first time helped eliminate a £125 million overspend in the CDF budget.

Signalling further strengthening of NHS England’s ability to negotiate and agree more flexible win/win agreements with the life sciences industry, from April 1st 2017 responsibility for the commercial medicines procurements transferred from the Department of Health to NHS England.

In the coming months, NHS England will continue to build commercial capacity and capability, so it can go further in the interests of patients, reaching beyond cancer treatments.