'Hammer blow' as NHS England removes 16 drugs from Cancer Drugs Fund
Thousands of patients will miss out on life-extending drugs after NHS England removed some from the Cancer Drugs Fund.
Some 16 drugs were removed after talks with manufacturers on price, affecting 25 treatment areas for cancer.
Among the drugs de-listed are those to treat breast cancer, multiple myeloma, bowel cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer and leukaemia.
The Rarer Cancers Foundation said the decision dealt a "hammer blow" to desperately ill patients and their families.
It estimates that more than 5,500 patients will miss out on life-extending cancer treatment as a result of the cuts.
Abraxane to treat pancreatic cancer has been removed, alongside Kadcyla for breast cancer and Avastin for cervical cancer, breast cancer and bowel cancer.
According to manufacturer Roche, 2,000 patients every year have been accessing Avastin for bowel cancer, as have 300 patients for breast cancer and 300 for cervical cancer.
Around 800 women a year will now no longer be able to get Kadcyla.
The announcement affects new patients, not those already receiving drugs through the fund.
The Rarer Cancers Foundation said almost 1,800 patients with blood cancer would also now not receive treatment.
Andrew Wilson, chief executive of the charity, said: "These cuts will be a hammer blow to many thousands of desperately ill cancer patients and their families.
"It is deeply disappointing that NHS England has pressed ahead with knee jerk cuts to the Cancer Drugs Fund before introducing the reforms to Nice that are so urgently required.
"Ministers told us they wanted to work with charities to develop a solution but now the NHS has announced big reductions in access to existing life-extending treatment, with no action to make available the newest game-changing drugs. This is a complete breach of faith."
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: "This is a dreadful day for breast cancer patients.
"Kadcyla is a one-of-a-kind drug proven to extend life, and the fact is that because Government, the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry have failed to agree realistic prices for new drugs, some women will die sooner.
"Despite many families relying on it, the CDF has unfortunately failed, and today's de-listing will further reduce the NHS's ability to keep pace with Europe in the treatment of breast cancer."
The Cancer Drugs Fund was launched in 2011 by Prime Minister David Cameron, who said patients should no longer be denied drugs on cost grounds.
Due to demand, the fund has continuously gone over its initial £200 million annual budget.
The Government pledged extra cash in January to make the fund now worth £340 million a year.
NHS England said current projections suggest that without de-listing, spend on the fund would rise to around £410 million this year.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said the fund had helped more than 72,000 people access drugs.
She said: "Advances in medical science mean that new treatments are emerging all the time - so expert clinical decisions mean the fund focuses on those drugs offering the greatest benefit to patients.
"The Government has protected the NHS as part of the long-term economic plan - this allows important initiatives like the Cancer Drugs Fund to exist."
NHS England decided to remove 16 drugs currently in use from the Cancer Drugs Fund list and keep 15 drugs.
It said manufacturers of nine of the 16 drugs would now have the opportunity to drop the price they asked the NHS to pay in order to keep their drugs on the list.
Professor Peter Clark, chair of the Cancer Drugs Fund and an oncologist, said: "There is no escaping the fact that we face a difficult set of choices, but it is our duty to ensure we get maximum value from every penny available on behalf of patients.
"We must ensure we invest in those treatments that offer the most benefit, based on rigorous evidence-based clinical analysis and an assessment of the cost of those treatments."
According to Roche, Kadcyla costs £5,900 per month per patient on average.
Dr Daniel Thurley, medical director of Roche Products Limited, said: "Although only two of our medicines were selected for re-review, Roche offered NHS England £15 million of savings, including on medicines not considered for the review, to protect all patients at risk of losing access.
"Nothing in the clinical effectiveness of our medicines has changed since NHS England last reviewed them in January."
Prof Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: "Today's decision is an example of the confusion at the heart of our drug assessment system - with some treatments first being refused by Nice, then accepted onto the Cancer Drugs Fund, and now to be removed from the list and denied to new patients."