NICE close to clearing Cancer Drugs Fund backlog

NICE has nearly cleared a backlog of drug assessments left over from the old Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), with only five left from a list of 24 treatments.

With the exception of one drug withdrawn by the manufacturer, NICE has recommended all drugs reviewed so far in either final or draft guidance.

All but one of the drugs assessed so far have been recommended and are available for routine NHS use. The CDF is reimbursing the remaining drug, Takeda’s Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), at a discounted price under special arrangements while further data is collected to support regular NHS funding.

NICE has been working through the list of drugs that were funded by the CDF under old arrangements since last year when the government revised the ring-fenced scheme to cut costs.

Set up to reimburse oncology drugs rejected by NICE, the CDF had become massively overspent, growing from £200m per year when it was introduced in late 2010 to £340 million last year.

The government acted to prevent any further cost over-runs by introducing new arrangements where the fund will pay for a select few drugs while further cost-effectiveness data is gathered.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation said: “Working closely with companies and NHS England, we are delivering our promise to give people fast access to the most cost-effective cancer drugs.

“More cancer drugs than ever are being recommended for routine use because companies are working hard to provide cost-effective solutions. We are also applying flexibility in cases where drugs show promise, meaning people get access through the new CDF while further data is generated.”

The latest CDF drug made available on the NHS is Bayer’s Nexavar (sorafenib) for patients with advanced liver cancer and a slight liver impairment.

Taken twice a day at a list price of £128 per patient per day, Bayer has agreed to a confidential discount with NHS England.

Final draft guidance is with consultees who have the opportunity to appeal against it.

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