NHS England set to curb prices of cancer drugs

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The government is preparing to threaten drug manufacturers that they will stop purchasing expensive cancer drugs unless prices are cut.

During 2010, the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) was implemented, which allowed English patients to gain access to drugs that would be thought to be too expensive if the same cost-benefit process used for other drugs was calculated.

New proposals, set to be revealed on Thursday, suggest that the fund requires reform for it to be sustainable.

Thus far, the CDF has treated 55000 patients.

The fund was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron which gave it the political benefit of defusing the existing arguments that patients had been denied access to expensive cancer treatment due to the cost-benefit calculation. However, it is now in breach of its budgets, which are due to be increased from £200m to £280m per annum.

Under the new plans, cancer drugs in the CDF will also be subjected to cost-benefit analyses, although the figures will be higher than processes used for conventional drugs.

The plan is to align cancer drug prices with other drug prices. The main focus of the argument has been placed on drugs such as Kadcyla, which is manufactured by Roche. The drug extends life by around six months on average, at a cost of £90000 per course. It can currently be obtained through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

However, if NHS England was to buy it based on its normal process, it would only be prepared to spend between £10000 and £25000 for a drug with that level of effectiveness.

The main intention of the proposed changes is to force the prices of cancer drugs into the same parameters as others.

Officials have stated that current treatments of patients will not be terminated. It has also been stated that patients with rare conditions who have no alternatives other than the very expensive drugs, will still have access to them if their healthcare professionals apply for it.

Along with the plan to reduce spending on expensive drugs, the new proposals are seeking to reduce the current spending on drugs with lower effectiveness.

Image Credit: Naval Surface Warriors

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Emma Brown

Emma graduated in 2005 from the University of York with a degree in English Literature. A huge passion for writing and health topics, Emma is a perfect match for Health News UK. Hobbies include; cooking, writing (of course), musicals and her 2 dogs.

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