NHS England – the body responsible for commissioning cancer drugs – and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which regulates access to cancer drugs, have together issued a series of proposed reforms to the current system that manages access to cancer drugs on the NHS in England. The consultation period is now open and looks at new ways to use the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) within a reformed NICE appraisal process.
The potential reforms could be really positive but also raise several concerns (see below for more details). We need to do everything in our power to make sure men don't lose access to new and innovative treatments that the CDF has provided. We also need to make sure the changes to NICE really can achieve access to new treatments for all men.
Have your say: fill in our short survey
That’s why we've joined forces with Tackle Prostate Cancer, a national federation of support groups for men with the disease, to deliver our consultation response. We want to make sure it reflects what you think and put men’s voice at the heart of these reforms.
So if you've been affected by prostate cancer, please fill in the short survey below about your experiences and what you think needs to happen to improve the system. We need your feedback by Monday 18 January so we can use it to shape our response in time for the consultation’s end on 11 February.
- The survey is now closed - our very sincere thanks for your responses.
Potential benefits of NHS England and NICE's proposed changes...
- Quicker and earlier NICE appraisal – NICE will assess new drugs at the same time as they are being assessed for their license and make draft decisions about access within a shorter period of time.
- A new NICE appraisal outcome – NICE will be able to approve a drug for use on the NHS ‘conditionally’, rather than just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This means that the drug will be made available to some patients on the NHS for up to two years while the manufacturer collects data that can better demonstrate the treatment’s benefits. It will then be re-assessed by NICE.
Changes that we're concerned about...
- Drugs that are not recommended by NICE will not receive any funding from the CDF, as it does now – including in the interim, while NICE completes its appraisal. This means that if a drug is deemed too expensive by NICE when it goes through its draft appraisal, it will not reach patients at all, even if it’s clinically effective. So, for example, under the proposed new system, men would not be able to access abiraterone before chemotherapy because NICE has rejected it due to its cost.
- The success of the new system relies heavily on cuts to the price of drugs – which, of course, relies on the Pharmaceutical industry to make their new treatments affordable to the NHS. This will require a step-change in drug pricing.
- There is a real risk that not all patients who need a drug will be able to access it when the treatment has a conditional approval – this is because the proposals suggest NICE sets out an agreed number of patients who can receive it.
- The CDF pot will go down in real terms year on year – meaning there will be less money available to fund new treatments with draft conditional approval or a 'yes'.