England's Cancer Drugs Fund keeps Bayer's Stivarga, axes Eisai and Lilly meds

England's Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) has drawn a hard line when it comes to its list of covered meds, axing cancer treatments despite pushback from drugmakers. But Bayer scored a victory for its cancer med Stivarga, getting the fund to reverse its decision and keep the drug on its list even as rival companies lose similar battles.

As Pharmafile reports, the German drugmaker won its appeal to England's National Health Service (NHS) in the latest round of CDF reviews. Eisai's breast cancer med Halaven and Eli Lilly's ($LLY) lung cancer powerhouse Alimta did not fare as well. Both will be dropped from the CDF's list in July after losing their appeals.

"These are difficult decisions, but if we don't continue to prioritize the drugs that offer the best value, many people could miss out on promising, more effective treatments that are in the pipeline," CDF chair Professor Peter Clark said, as quoted by Pharmafile.

Bayer is not the first company to get the CDF to change its tune. In March, the NHS said it would continue to make Novartis' ($NVS) Afinitor available to women with advanced breast cancer and people with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, but not cover the drug for people with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs) because of the rarity of the condition. Novartis agreed to the new deal with CDF, accepting a delisting of the med for one indication "rather than agreeing to a situation that significantly undervalues our medicine" the company said at the time.

The CDF has faced backlash from drugmakers since revealing in January that it would remove certain meds from its covered list, countering budget overruns in a bid to save an estimated £80 million ($121.3 million) a year. The fund is expected to surpass its £200 million ($422 million) annual budget by £100 million by the end of the fiscal year, and government officials pledged an additional £160 million to make up for the difference. In return, the government also granted the fund the ability to trim its approved list down to 62 indications from 84.

ABPI's Paul Catchpole

Some industry heavyweights are calling for a complete overhaul of NHS and its system for assessing cancer treatments in light of the CDF cuts. As Paul Catchpole, director of value for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) told Pharmafile, the CDF re-evaluation is "fundamentally flawed" and the fund is a "sticking plaster covering a seeping wound.

"A sustainable solution is urgently required. This involves creating a holistic and joined up system encompassing both NHS England (NHSE) and NICE in order to transform the way these medicines are evaluated and commissioned," Catchpole said, as quoted by Pharmafile.

- read the Pharmafile story

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