New Cancer Drugs Fund benefiting thousands of patients and releasing £140million for the NHS

Thousands of cancer patients have benefited from speedy access to the new and innovative treatments due to new Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), which is also expected to release at least £140million into the NHS over the next five years.

Since the new CDF opened in July 2016, nearly 15,700 patients have benefited from the 52 drugs treating 81 different types of cancer. Of these patients, around 5,000 have received treatment sooner than they would have under the previous system.

NHS England has also secured discounts on eight of the treatments previously funded via the old CDF which will generate savings for the NHS of around £140m over the next five years.

The new system means the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) appraisal process now starts much earlier for newly referred drugs, with the aim of publishing draft guidance before drugs receive their licence, and then final guidance to be issued within 90 days of that.

Patients also benefit from new cancer drugs at least four months earlier under the reformed CDF than was previously the case.  All cancer treatments recommended by NICE, whether for routine commissioning or the CDF are now available to patients as soon as positive draft guidance is published by NICE.

John Stewart, Director of Specialised Commissioning at NHS England, said: “Thousands of cancer patients are benefitting from earlier access to innovative treatments through the new Cancer Drugs Fund. Alongside the new look process, tough negotiations and flexibility are leading to more deals with pharmaceutical companies achieving real value for money for the NHS, meaning the new Fund is not only benefiting patients, but industry, the NHS and the taxpayer too.”

NHS England now has more direct involvement with industry, working closely with NICE, to help to find deals that work for patients. Previous arrangements would be down to industry proposing a price where NICE say yes or no to the drug being made available.

NHS England’s inclusive approach to commercial deals has gone beyond cancer drugs with recent deals agreed, giving patients access to three innovative treatments – Strensiq (asfotase alfa) for a rare bone disease, Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) and Perjeta (pertuzumab) for breast cancer. These deals were reached by NHS England working closely with the pharmaceutical company – Alexion and Roche – allowing NICE to make their decisions based on improved commercial terms.