Drug firms must price cancer drugs fairly, says charity

‘Inflated’ prices set by drug companies for breast cancer treatments are creating a barrier that no regulatory system can overcome, a cancer charity argues.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer has raised its concerns to the government about the ever-increasing price of new oncology medicines.

A £280m annual Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) has been set up in England to pay for new anti-cancer drugs not recommended by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). But, this funding is only guaranteed until March 2016 and the specialist commissioning budget, which finances the fund, is currently struggling to meet demand.

At an event at the House of Commons on 29 October 2014 — part of the charity’s ‘Demand a Fair Price’ campaign — it said it wants a commitment from all political parties to extend the CDF in England until the end of the next Parliament (2020). It also wants all parties to commit to finding a long-term, UK-wide solution to a lack of routine access to life-extending drugs.

It also called for the Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies to introduce a similar system to the CDF to ensure that patients get access to the anticancer drugs.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, which represents pharmaceutical companies, says the CDF improves access, but calls for a longer-term solution, primarily for the reform of NICE to allow greater uptake.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 15 November 2014, Vol 293, No 7836;293(7836):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20067021