After years of budget woes and disagreements about its place in the National Health Service (NHS), the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) will no longer be conducting reviews of oncology products. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will now be reviewing all new cancer drugs and significant changes in indications for existing drugs. NICE is amending its technology appraisal (TA) process to provide for some drugs to be temporarily funded through the CDF while companies seek further data to strengthen the evidence in favor of routine use. NICE is also placing greater emphasis on providing rapid access to cancer drugs and intends to publish guidance on cancer drugs within 90 days of marketing authorization.
The addition of cost as an evaluation criterion and the re-evaluation of drugs already on the CDF priority list has been a contentious topic within the oncology market access world. The pharmaceutical industry and cancer advocacy groups are fearful that cost will be the major factor in CDF decisions and will further restrict the number of treatment options that are available to patients. Others applaud the change, viewing it as preventing the use of overpriced drugs in the UK.
Are the manufacturers’ and cancer advocacy groups’ fears warranted? Does cost really outweigh the clinical efficacy of the drug in the CDF decision-making process?