The U.K.'s National Health Service will indeed get the money it was promised to help pay for pricey cancer drugs not approved by the cost-effectiveness watchdog NICE. The government has set up an annual fund of £200 million ($316.4 million) per year through 2014 to finance such rejected drugs as GlaxoSmithKline's leukemia drug Arzerra, which just got the thumbs-down from NICE yesterday.
The cancer fund is an early run around NICE, which is due for an overhaul under the new government's plans for the NHS. Under their proposal, NICE would step away from assessing individual drugs in favor of more general treatment recommendations. Decisions about what meds to cover would be made at the local level instead--by doctors.
The new cancer funding will also be administered locally, the Financial Times reports, despite worries about vast differences in access to drugs--and fears that drugmakers will use the opportunity to hike prices for their meds. Officials are discussing some procedures, such as refusing to consider drugs that companies won't submit to NICE, to keep that from happening. There's even hope that regional NHS operations will be able to negotiate more favorable terms with drugmakers.
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