New drugs available after Cancer Drugs Fund revamp


The NHS has announced new potentially life-saving medicines that will be made available to patients as part of the revamped Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

The previous fund was closed amid fears spiralling costs had made it unsustainable. The fund, which has been overhauled, fast tracks cancer drugs which are not yet routinely available to patients but show potential.

NHS England said the four new drugs available will benefit 4,500 patients and speed up access to them by up to four months.

The new drugs are ceritinib for the treatment of lung cancer, dabrafenib and trametinib as combination therapy for the treatment of melanoma, and ipilimumab and nivolumab, which are also used as combination treatment for melanoma.

Trifluridine and tipiracil will also be available for the treatment of bowel cancer.

The existing drugs bosutinib, used to tackle chronic myeloid leukaemia, and pemetrexed for lung cancer, will also receive CDF funding before moving over into routine commissioning in the coming months.

The new CDF has a fixed budget of £340 million and new provisions to oversee expenditure, and if costs go over pharmaceutical companies will pick up the bill.

The NHS said it will work closely with the pharmaceutical industry "to encourage the responsible pricing of cancer drugs" in a bid to keep costs under control.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, director of specialised commissioning and deputy national medical director at NHS England, said: "The new Cancer Drugs Fund is open for business, with four new treatments to be made immediately available to patients.

"Today marks the culmination of extensive work to ensure the new CDF will benefit the cancer patients, taxpayers and industry. The new approach developed by NHS England and Nice is faster and less rigid than before, meaning patients will be able to access promising new and innovative treatments much earlier.

"The fund has already helped nearly 100,000 people, and we want to make sure it continues to do so, which is why we will continue to work with industry to ensure taxpayers get best value for money and find innovative ways to achieve this best value for patients."

But Baroness Delyth Morgan, the chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, warned that Nice has adopted flawed methodology for assessing cancer drugs in the past.

She said: "The new CDF will do next-to-nothing to solve the wider problems that are preventing NHS patients from accessing the best cancer drugs."

She added: "The pharmaceutical industry must also take responsibility and begin offering more sensible prices.

"Absolutely nobody benefits if effective new drugs are not made available on the NHS, and we believe that enabling the Government to negotiate on price - as happens elsewhere in Europe - could significantly improve access for cancer patients."