New CDF pledges faster decisions on drugs

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s (NICE’s) Board has approved new arrangements for the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

NICE will now be able to make faster decisions on promising new and innovative cancer treatments. However, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) says that the finalised proposals represent “a seemingly reduced level of ambition from NHS England”.

NICE will issue draft guidance on new cancer drugs or significant new licence indications before they have received marketing approval in the UK. Any drug that receives a positive draft recommendation would then be funded from the point of licence.

Final guidance will then normally be issued within 90 days of licence. NICE says that the changes will bring “clarity” to decisions about which new cancer drugs will receive NHS funding as well as offering conditional funding for those which the evidence for use is uncertain.

Dr Paul Catchpole, Value and Access Director, ABPI, said: “Finalised proposals for the new Cancer Drugs Fund confirm a seemingly reduced level of ambition from NHS England for providing NHS patients in England with access to the latest cancer medicines because the NICE decision making process remains largely unchanged.”

The ABPI expressed concerns over the backlog of cancer medicines awaiting evaluation when the CDF opens for new applications in July. “Prioritising this backlog appropriately, whilst at the same time evaluating cancer medicines already nearing launch, will be hugely challenging and resource intensive,” said Dr Catchpole. “ABPI will continue to make the case for more substantial changes to be made to the decision making processes for all medicines, including those for cancer.”

NICE will begin using the new methodology when the current CDF closes on 1 April 2016.