High profile cancer treatments including Roche’s Kadcyla and Avastin are to be removed from the cancer drugs fund.

  • Eighteen drugs affected by cancer drugs fund delistings
  • Kadcyla among eight drugs removed entirely from the list
  • NHS England said without action the fund would have spiralled to £410m this year

Twenty-six indications, applying to 18 drugs, will no longer be funded through the £340m fund, in an effort to contain its spiralling costs, according to the latest version of the list published by NHS England this afternoon.

NHS England said that, despite previous action taken to contain costs, current projections suggest spending on the fund would rise to around £410m this year – an overspend of £70m – without the delistings.


Eight drugs have been removed from the cancer drugs fund entirely

Eight drugs will cease to be available through the fund under any circumstances, while 10 have had the range of indications – conditions for which they can be prescribed – reduced.

The delistings, the second such set of reforms to the fund this year have provoked outcry from patient groups which claim thousands of people will be affected by the cuts.

The breast cancer drug Kadcyla, the most expensive treatment on the list, and leukaemia treatment ofatumumab, marketed as Arzerra, are among those no longer available under any circumstances.

Three indications for the use of bevacizumab, marketed as Avastin, will also be axed.

The bowel cancer drugs cetuximab, marketed as Erbitux, and panitumumab will also have restrictions placed on their availability through the fund.

The treatments will cease being available from 4 November.

The changes to the fund were first made after NHS England began evaluating the cost effectiveness of medicines available through the fund last autumn in a bid to bring down its costs.

While those currently receiving treatments that have been delisted will continue being able to take those medicines, new patients will no longer be eligible for access.

Mark Flannagan, chief executive of the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, said: “This is a deeply disappointing day for bowel cancer patients. 

“Yet again we will see more and more patients being denied proven, clinically effective, internationally recognised standards of treatment.

“These changes will restrict the scope for patients to make choices about treatments that could extend their lives and will reduce a clinician’s ability to prescribe treatments according to a patient’s clinical need.”

Alison Clough, acting chief executive of the trade body the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, called the delistings “extremely disappointing”.

Peter Clark, chair of the Cancer Drugs Fund, said: “There is no escaping the fact that we face a difficult set of choices, but it is our duty to ensure we get maximum value from every penny available on behalf of patients. We must ensure we invest in those treatments that offer the most benefit, based on rigorous evidence based clinical analysis and an assessment of the cost of those treatments.”

The breast cancer drug eribulin, earmarked for removal from the fund earlier this year, will remain available after its Japanese maker Eisai negotiated concessions on its price.  

There remain 29 drugs accessible through the cancer drugs fund.