The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) reported last week that patients will have routine access to more cancer drugs as pharmaceutical companies reduce their prices as a result of being reconsidered by NICE in a new approach to the appraisal and funding of cancer drugs in England (a reformed Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) process).

On 2nd March, two further drugs that were on the existing CDF list were recommended for routine use, bringing the total to 14 CDF drugs approved so far from the 24 that NICE had earmarked for reconsideration. One such drug that has received a positive recommendation for use within NHS England is everolimus (Afinitor) for the second-line treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

So far, all the drugs that NICE have reconsidered from the existing CDF list have been recommended for routine NHS use in England, and NICE is now more than halfway through the rapid reconsideration process.

The CDF was originally established by the Government in 2010 as a temporary solution to help patients access cancer drugs that were not widely available within the NHS. However, within a couple of years of operation, the CDF exceeded its original £200 million budget, and the CDF and appraisal process were reformed in 2016. This required NICE to carry out appraisals for the drugs in the existing CDF, as well as all newly licensed cancer drugs.

Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive at NICE, said: “The system is working well. Companies are cooperating well with our reviews and the good news for patients is that more cancer drugs than ever are being recommended for routine use. As drugs move off the CDF, we free up funding for new drugs coming down the pipeline, so patients will have faster access to promising cancer drugs and the NHS makes the most of its resources.”

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