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25.02.16

Cancer Drugs Fund to lose power to prescribe drugs not NICE approved

The heavily criticised Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) will be replaced with a new fund entirely overseen by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) from July 2016.

The new fund was approved at an NHS board meeting today following a three month consultation. It will have a fixed budget of £340m and will no longer have the power to pay for drugs NICE has rejected for use on the NHS.

Instead, NICE will have power over all the drugs on offer. Patients will continue to receive drugs that are not approved by NICE but they will be given a notice period while drug companies are invited to reconsider their pricing.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: "The cancer drugs fund has helped thousands of people and we are determined to respond to the demands of parliament, and the cancer care community, that we put it on sustainable footing for the future.

"Under these measures, patients will get faster access to the most promising new cancer treatments and tax payers will get better value from drugs expenditure.

"Drug companies will need to price their drugs responsibly and we make no apology for maintaining the pressure on this point on behalf of the public. Companies keen to work with the NHS for patients will get a new fast-track route to NHS funding for promising new drugs, backed by a speeded up and more transparent NICE assessment process."

The announcement comes following a Public Accounts Committee report which criticised the CDF for cutting across the work of NICE and mismanaging its funds to the point that costs grew by 138% in the period 2013-15.

Bruce Keogh, medical director at NHS England, told BBC News: “[The CDF] will provide faster access for patients, I think that's really important, and I think it will bring clarity to which drugs are the most effective sooner than we know at the moment.”

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