According to NHS England’s board meeting papers NICE’s remit concerning the Cancer Drugs Fund is being extended. It appears that the health service’s top commissioning body wants the CDF to become a ‘managed access’ fund for new cancer drugs, with “clear entry and exit criteria”. The Fund ‘would be used to resource those drugs which appear promising, but where NICE indicates that there is insufficient evidence to support a recommendation for routine commissioning, and where additional evidence would be likely to enable a more informed NICE appraisal decision.’ This would give a chance for the drugs to be given a ‘conditional approval’ and provided through the fund allowing more time to gather real world evidence. Following this, the drug would go through an ‘abbreviated NICE appraisal, using this additional evidence and the company’s offer price, and then either attract a NICE positive recommendation at which point it would move out of the Fund into mainstream commissioning, or a NICE negative recommendation at which point it would move out of the Fund and become available only on the basis of individual patient referral.’ This prevents the Fund from essentially by passing NICE.
The future of the fund will be discussed in more detail at NHS England’s next meeting in September. The full board papers can be read here.
In addition, the National Audit Office have launched an investigation into the CDF, stating the following:
“During the work for the NAO’s report Progress in improving cancer services and outcomes, published in January 2015, concerns were raised about the impact of the Cancer Drugs Fund and whether it is sustainable in its current form. This investigation will examine these issues. It will not seek to form a judgement on the value for money of the Fund, but will present the facts to increase transparency as well as public and Parliamentary accountability.”