In a study published today in journal Annals of Oncology, new analysis of drugs that were approved for use by the NHS Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) in England has suggested that the Fund was not good value for patients and society.
According to the study, when other factors such as quality of life and toxic side effects of the drugs were considered as part of criteria developed by oncologists to measure value to patients, the majority of the drugs failed to show any evidence of meaningful clinical benefit.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“For many living with incurable breast cancer, the CDF has had a totally transformational impact on their lives, offering significant and precious extra time with their loved ones.
“This analysis actually makes clear that breast cancer drugs Perjeta and Kadcyla – which were not approved by NICE but which the CDF made available – provide a substantial improvement upon the current NICE-approved standard of care.
“But breast cancer patients are as disappointed as anyone that the major opportunity to collect real-world evidence on these drugs through the Fund has been inexcusably missed.
“The Fund was only ever intended as a sticking plaster to enable patients to access effective modern cancer drugs while the significant flaws in the NICE appraisal process were fixed. But, unfortunately, no effective reform has been forthcoming.
“The pharmaceutical industry has a vital role to play in pricing treatments fairly and affordably. However, the time has come for a conversation about reforms to the way that we fund and appraise drugs, as well as about investment in cancer and life sciences in this country. Breast cancer patients simply cannot wait any longer.”
On what this report demonstrates about breast cancer drugs Kadcyla and Perjeta, Baroness Morgan added:
“Perjeta can extend life by nearly 16 months, and Kadcyla by 6-9 months, compared to existing treatments. In many cases, women will also be able to live relatively normal lives whilst taking these life-extending drugs, including working. These drugs are now being reappraised as part of the changes to the CDF, with thousands of patients left waiting anxiously for these possibly life-changing decisions.”