The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) has reduced the number of treatments it offers from 84 to 59, as part of ongoing efforts to reduce costs in the NHS.
The reduction in the number of treatments was decided after a review of the CDF, which was prompted when it was announced that the fund would be approximately £100 million over budget. Some of the drugs cut from the fund include bevacizumab, used in the treatment of multiple cancers, trabectedin, which is targeted at ovarian cancer, and regorafenib, for colorectal cancer.
Professor Peter Clark, chair of the CDF, said: 'We have been through a robust, evidence-based process to ensure the drugs available offer the best clinical benefit, getting the most for patients from every pound.'
However, the total budget of the CDF will rise from £200 million to approximately £340 million by April 2015, a rise of 70 per cent since August 2014. Without the review, it has been estimated that the budget would have risen to £420 million in 2016. NHS England estimates that the review will also create a further £80 million of savings with a combination of price reductions for the treatments, as well as improved clinical effectiveness.
Samia al Qadhi, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Care, said: 'The CDF is falling apart when there is still no long-term solution in place. While it is good that another three breast cancer drugs remain on the list and budget for the CDF will grow, the priority now must be to urgently find a sustainable system that works.'
NHS England have committed to several measures to limit the impact of these changes for patients. These include continuing to provide any treatment which was being used before it was excluded from the CDF, and ensuring that any drug which is the only effective treatment for a certain kind of cancer will continue to be provided. The CDF will also allow clinicians to apply for non-approved drugs to be funded in exceptional circumstances.
Professor Clark added: 'These are difficult decisions, but if we don't prioritise the drugs that offer the best value, many people could miss out on promising, more effective treatments that are in the pipeline.' The CDF was established in April 2013 to provide an alternative to normal commissioning to the provision of cancer treatments.