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Proposed Changes To Cancer Drugs Fund Put Forward

Changes May Be Introduced To The Cancer Drugs Fund In The Near Future


Changes could be introduced to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), NHS England has announced.

The Pharma Times reports that a four-week-long consultation period has now been launched, in which opinions will be sought from the public as to whether or not they think the proposed alterations to the service are a good idea.

Three main proposals are being put forward, with these including drugs being re-evaluated to decide if they should be removed from inclusion within the CDF.

Currently, the CDF involves a government cash pot being used to pay for some drugs that have not yet been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and are not being made available on the NHS. For example, this could be because they are not deemed to be cost-effective enough or if their effects are not classed as being particularly significant.

However, those with the lowest levels of clinical benefit could now be removed from the CDF's list, while this factor will be weighed up alongside the medicine's cost to determine if it will still be funded by the government initiative.

Thirdly, there is a proposal to introduce a new option to the scheme, which will see pharmaceutical companies given the power to adjust the prices of certain types of medication to allow them to remain under the scope of the CDF.

NHS England has said these are necessary because the CDF "is now facing growing financial pressure", in a similar manner to other aspects of the UK's healthcare system.

However, NHS England explained any changes will be so that the CDF "continues to offer maximum benefit to patients within its budget, i.e. to offer drugs with the greatest clinical benefit at appropriate costs", before adding that to do this "it requires a degree of change in the way it operates, in order that it can better meet the demand for new drugs".

The CDF was established in April 2011 and is set to continue until March 2016, when the government may make such drugs more readily available on the NHS. Currently, approximately 2,000 patients qualify for cancer treatment under the fund each month, with demand continually rising.

Expert Opinion
Early diagnosis and access to the appropriate treatment for cancer sufferers play a critical role in their chances of survival and recovery. The debate over the way the Cancer Drugs Fund, which helps patients access drugs that have not been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence or those unavailable on the NHS, illustrates the difficult decisions that need to be made in relation to the availability of drugs.

“It is vital the consultation period is thorough and takes into account the health and safety of patients, which should always be a top priority for the NHS. In our work we have seen a number of cases where funding issues play a role in decisions. It is crucial that any changes to the way the CDF works are made in the correct way and patients receive the treatment where their NHS treating clinician prescribes it.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner

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