Stay connected! Share and follow:

Leukaemia CARE Careline

We're here to talk | 24-hours a day

08088 010 444

FREE from landlines & most major mobile networks

31
Jul
Cancer Drugs Fund – are the government failing patients?

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • PIXABAY - 15416 - big-ben-1143631_960_720

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is responsible for appraising new treatments and determining whether they are both clinically effective and cost-effective enough to be approved for NHS funding.

Concerns over the NICE system led to the creation of the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) in 2010/2011 as an interim measure whilst a new system was developed. The CDF was set up to enable cancer patients to access clinically effective drugs which have not been approved by NICE. This may be because they are yet to be reviewed, are currently being reviewed or have been reviewed by NICE and determined to be clinically effective but not cost-effective.

Since its inception, the CDF has enabled thousands of cancer patients to access innovative, new and effective treatments which are not available for mainstream NHS Funding.

It was recently announced that after five years of inactivity, work is ongoing to improve the workings of NICE and the CDF, which will hopefully result in a single, coherent system that allows patients to easily access effective treatments. However, we are left with NICE and the CDF in the interim. 

At present, the CDF has a list of drugs which are approved for funding. Some of the drugs on this list are currently being reviewed (29th and 30th of July 2015) and it is highly likely that a number of them will be removed. The list was reviewed for the first time last year, which led to the removal of sixteen potentially life-extending drugs in March.

These drugs have the potential to offer patients more time with their families and an improvement in their quality of life, yet patients are now unable to access them. Many of these drugs are routinely available throughout Europe. UK cancer survival rates continue to lag behind the European average and making it more difficult to access these drugs surely doesn’t help change this?

The motives for this reassessment are financial, not clinical. These are drugs that have demonstrated sufficient clinical efficacy to be licensed throughout Europe, but are not being funded because of their cost.

 

Below is a summary of the blood cancer drugs reviewed on the 30th of July:

Drug

Condition

Indication

Bendamustine

(Levact®)

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)

Second or subsequent line treatment - when fludarabine based therapy is not an option

Bendamustine

(Levact®)

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL)

Second or subsequent line treatment – in bendamustine naïve patients

Bosutinib

(Bosulif®)

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)

Chronic phase – refractory/intolerant to dasatinib and nilotinib

Bosutinib

(Bosulif®)

CML

Accelerated phase – refractory/intolerant to dasatinib and nilotinib

Brentuximab vedotin

(Adcetris®)

Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL)

Relapsed/refractory – when no other salvage treatment is available

Brentuximab vedotin

(Adcetris®)

Hodgkin lymphoma (HL)

Relapsed/refractory – when patients have failed at least two prior multi-agent chemotherapies and are not Stem cell transplant (SCT) candidates

Clofarabine

(Evoltra®)

Acute lympoblastic leukaemia (ALL)

Relapsed/refractory – as a bridge to SCT

Clofarabine

(Evoltra®)

Acute myeloblastic leukaemia (AML)

Relapsed/refractory – as a bridge to SCT

Dasatinib

(Sprycel®)

ALL

Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph+) – with resistance/intolerance to prior therapy including imatinib

Ibrutinib

(Imbruvica®)

CLL

Relapsed/refractory

Ibrutinib

(Imbruvica®)

MCL

Relapsed/refractory

Idelalisib

(Zydelig®)

CLL

Relapsed – not eligible for cytotoxic therapy

Lenalidomide

(Revlimid®)

Myeloma

Second line – where there is contraindication to bortezomib

Nelarabine

(Atriance®)

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)

T-cell – as a bridge to transplant

Nelarabine

(Atriance®)

ALL

T-cell – as a bridge to transplant

Pomalidomide

(Imnovid®)

Myeloma

Relapsed/refractory – following at least two prior therapies, including lenalidomide and bortezomib, and demonstrated disease progression on the last therapy

 

It is important to note that if any drugs are removed from the approved list as a result of this review, it will not affect patients who are currently receiving treatment as these patients will continue to receive the treatment for as long as they will benefit from it. Any changes will impact on the future availability of the treatments for patients.

 

Tony Gavin, Campaigning and Advocacy Director, Leukaemia CARE said:

“We are extremely concerned by this re-evaluation of drugs currently available via the Cancer Drugs Fund and the potential this creates for even more effective blood cancer treatments to be removed from the approved list.

If these drugs are removed then patients will be unable to access treatments which can offer more time with their families and an improvement in quality of life.

Whilst we are hopeful that the ongoing reform of the system will improve access to treatments in the long-term, we have seen no consideration of interim measures to ensure that patients can continue to access these treatments until the new system is in place.”

If you could be affected by any of these changes and would like to speak to somebody, please call our CARE line on 08088 010 444.