Sunday, November 16, 2014

UK Health Radio – Medical News Update on the Hour Plans to Restrict Medicines

UK Health Radio – Medical News Update on the Hour
Plans to Restrict Medicines
The BBC has reported that Cancer charities are "deeply concerned" at moves to restrict medicines available through a special fund set up by the prime minster.
The Cancer Drugs Fund was a key part of David Cameron's 2010 election campaign and gives patients in England access to effective treatments deemed too expensive for hospitals to fund.
More than 40 drugs, around half the total, will be reviewed in mid-December as new rules on cost-effectiveness are introduced by NHS England.
Six drugs in danger of being removed from the list of accepted medicines are for breast cancer.
They include Kadcyla, which extends life by an average of six months and costs £90,000 a course as well as drugs such as Avastin.
Caitlin Palframan, the senior policy manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "We're deeply concerned that several very effective breast cancer drugs appear on the list of drugs at risk of delisting, due to their high price.
"The fund is the only way women in England can routinely access these drugs that can offer them months, or even years, of additional good quality life."
Prostate Cancer UK said the fund was "on the brink" because of financial pressures, and called for government to find a better strategy for funding cancer drugs.
Owen Sharp, the charity's chief executive, said the fund had created "perverse incentives" that meant drug companies did not need to make their medicines affordable as the fund would pay for them anyway.
He added: "A long-term solution is urgently needed that delivers an overhaul of the way new cancer drugs are appraised."
However, he said it was wrong for patients to be denied drugs while a new system was sorted out.
The £200m-a-year Cancer Drugs Fund has been used by about 55,000 people, but is overspent. It ran up a deficit of £30m last year.
Its budget is being expanded to £280m a year, but NHS England says further changes are needed in order to make the fund sustainable.
NHS England has introduced financial restrictions on the drugs that will be paid for through the fund.
It said: "The changes to the Cancer Drugs Fund process include re-evaluation of a number of drugs on the list... which will include, for the first time, an assessment of a drug's cost alongside its clinical benefits."
Forty-two of the drugs currently funded, around half the total, will be assessed in December.
However, no patient will be taken off his or her current medication as part of the shift in policy.
Amanda Thomas
UK Health Radio – Medical News Update on the Hour
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