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Cancer drugs funding

Three quarters of drugs in Cancer Drugs Fund now approved for routine use

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the health technology assessment body, has now approved three quarters of the drugs in the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) for routine NHS use, and has not rejected any drug outright.

Liver cancer drug sorafenib (Nexavar; Bayer) is the 18th of the 24 drugs in the CDF that NICE was asked to appraise and has recommended should be routinely available for some patients on the NHS.

The CDF was established by the government in 2010 as a temporary solution to help patients access cancer drugs that were not widely available on the NHS. However, the fund quickly exceeded its budget, and in 2016 reforms were put in place which required NICE to carry out appraisals for the drugs in the existing fund and all newly licensed cancer drugs.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE centre for health technology evaluation said: “More cancer drugs than ever are being recommended for routine use because companies are working hard to provide cost-effective solutions. We are also applying flexibility in cases where drugs show promise, meaning people get access through the new CDF while further data is generated.”

Sorafenib has been recommended for some people with liver cancer that has progressed. It is estimated that the drug extends life by up to three months.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203398

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