Bayer, Roche and GSK cancer meds win nod for special U.K. funding

U.K. patients will get the chance to use three new Big Pharma cancer treatments. Unless and until Britain's cost watchdogs decide to back them for regular National Health Service use, the drugs will be reimbursed from a special fund for cancer drugs.

Bayer's new radiotherapy for prostate cancer, Xofigo; Roche's ($RHHBY) next-generation breast cancer drug Kadcyla; and GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) newly minted melanoma treatment Tafinlar all won official blessing for coverage by the Cancer Drugs Fund.

As PharmaTimes reports, the fund provides an extra £200 million ($326 million) each year to pay for cancer drugs that aren't on the official NHS formulary. Originally set to expire this year, the fund recently got a top-up of $400 million from the U.K. government, to keep it going through March 2016.

Kadcyla has yet to be launched in the U.K., Roche told PharmaTimes, but women with HER2-positive breast cancer can now win access to the treatment as soon as it rolls out. That's about 1,290 women, the Swiss drugmaker said.

The fund has been an important safety valve for some drugmakers. NICE refused to back Roche's Avastin for any of the 5 areas where it is licensed for treatment, such as colorectal and lung cancers. Yet it is one of most prescribed drugs in the country. The fund isn't without its critics, however; the Lancet, for one, has called it "the product of political opportunism and intellectual incoherence."

- read the PharmaTimes story

Special Reports: Top 15 Drug Launch Superstars - Kadcyla | FDA new drug approvals of 2013 - Tafinlar