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NHS England drops 16 medicines from Cancer Drugs Fund

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 07 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4803
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

NHS England has stemmed rising costs in the Cancer Drugs Fund by eliminating a further 16 medicines, used in 23 treatments, from the list it is prepared to pay for. At the beginning of 2015, 84 therapies were paid for by the fund, but, after a cull in May and this new review, the number has more than halved.

Among high profile casualties was Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine), a medicine from Roche for advanced breast cancer that can extend life by six months but costs £90 000 (€123 000; $137 000) a year for each patient. Avastin (bevacizumab), another Roche product, was also deleted for three indications in colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer.1 Existing patients on any of the excluded drugs will be able to continue their treatments.

Roche and cancer charities reacted strongly to the changes, Breast Cancer Now calling it “a dreadful day.” Daniel Thurley, medical director of Roche Products, condemned a “stop and start” approach to cancer medicines and disclosed …

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