Three new drugs have been added to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) in a move NHS England says could benefit 900 patients per year.
The Fund will add new NHS coverage in England for Roche’s Avastin (bevacizumab), Celgene’s Abraxane (albumin bound paclitaxel) and Exelixis’ Cometriq (cabozantinib).
The CDF provides special funding for drugs that have clinical demand, but haven’t been backed by England’s cost effectiveness watchdog NICE, and in its first year saw particularly strong demand for Avastin.
The uses of Roche’s cancer drug now supported by the CDF will include treating low grade glioma in children, potentially helping up to 75 patients to try and delay the need for radiotherapy. The benefit of this is that as patients get older they are less likely to develop side effects to radiotherapy.
The CDF will also back Celgene’s Abraxane to treat advanced pancreatic cancer in combination with gemcitabine, something for which up to 800 patients a year may be eligible.
Finally the CDF will underwrite Cometriq in medullary thyroid cancer once Exelixis wins a European licence for the drug – which was recommended for approval by the CHMP in December – and its price confirmed.
The decision was taken by NHS England chemotherapy clinical reference group (CRG), which works with clinicians and pharma representatives to ensure a rapid review for new drugs that might be suitable for the CDF.
Professor Peter Clark, chair of the chemotherapy CRG, said: “These new additions to the list demonstrate NHS England’s commitment to achieving maximum benefit to patients from the £200m Cancer Drugs Fund.
“The process of updating the list is led by cancer specialists, and should ensure that patients benefit quickly when new drugs become available that are backed by good evidence from trial data.”
Originally launched in 2011 as a temporary funding measure, the government last year decided to extend the CDF for two years beyond its original deadline, giving it an additional £400m of funds and allowing it to run until 2016.