NHS England Dropping Drugs From Cancer Fund

NHS England will no longer pay for 16 cancer drugs, including products made by Roche, Celgene, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence deemed them not cost-effective.

The health service dropped the drugs — which include top sellers Kadcyla from Roche and Abraxane from Celgene and cover 25 indications — from its Cancer Drug Fund, effective Nov. 4.

CDF Chairman Peter Clark says costs were expected to exceed the $523 million budget set in April by about $107 million, necessitating the cuts. Clark, an oncologist, says the program must invest in treatments that offer the most benefit based on clinical analysis and cost assessment.

The CDF decision is not final. Some drugmakers are negotiating a reduced price with NHS England to keep a product on the list. Also, patients currently receiving drugs slated for removal will be able to continue to get them, the health service says.

Even with the cuts, the fund doesn’t expect to meet budget until 2016-2017.

NHS England will be consulting with NICE on a new system for commissioning cancer drugs that provides a more systematic approach to getting the best price. — John Bechtel

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