Talks are under way to identify high profile treatments to be removed from the cancer drugs fund in the coming months, HSJ has learned.
NHS England is considering which will be removed in order to contain its spending on the fund, which pays for access to treatments otherwise not be available on the NHS.
Several high profile treatments that have been paid for many times by the fund for several years are expected to be delisted, according to several sources with knowledge of the process.
One source said the policy had created a “monster” by giving routine access to treatments which now have to be cut off. The source said a significant backlash was expected from the patient groups and pharmaceutical companies affected by the delisting.
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NHS England has presented its evaluation of indications to the drugs companies affected, sources said, and in some cases firms are able to offer to reduce prices to keep them on the list.
Final decisions are expected to be made in the next two weeks and published in early September, several sources said. The treatments are expected to be closed to new patients in November. Patients already receiving them will continue to do so.
The previous delisting was announced in January, but it is thought this round will affect more high profile drugs and, unlike the last round, no new indications are expected to be added.
Patient charities have responded to the likelihood of treatments being cut.
Beating Bowel Cancer said its medical advisory board has written to Peter Clark, chair of NHS England’s cancer drugs fund panel, strongly opposing any further cuts. This would compromise patients’ ability to make the best treatment choices, and impact on research by limiting ability to take part in clinical trials, it said. The charity has also called for the development of a better system to replace the current fund and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence processes.
Professor Clark said: “We must continue to ensure the drugs available through the [cancer drugs fund] continue to offer the best clinical benefit, getting the most for patients from every pound that we have. These are difficult decisions, but if we don’t continue to prioritise the drugs that offer the best value, many people could miss out on promising, more effective treatments that are in the pipeline.”