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Br J Cancer. 2014 Oct 28;111(9):1693-702. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.86. Epub 2014 Feb 25.

Does the cancer drugs fund lead to faster uptake of cost-effective drugs? A time-trend analysis comparing England and Wales.

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  • 1School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK.
  • 2IMS Health, 210 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JY, UK.
  • 3Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, University Hospitals Bristol, Horfield Road, Bristol BS2 8ED, UK.



The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) provides £200 million annually in England for 'anti-cancer' drugs.


We used a controlled pre-/post-intervention design to compare IMS Health dispensing data for 15 cancer drugs (2007-2012) in England vs Wales, stratified by pre-CDF NICE drug approval status (rejected, mixed recommendations, recommended, not appraised).


The CDF was associated with increased prescribing in England for three of five drugs rejected or with mixed NICE recommendations. The prescribing volume ratios (PVR) ranged from 1.29 (95% CI 1.00, 1.67) for sorafenib to 3.28 (2.59, 4.14) for bevacizumab (NICE rejected) and 0.93 (0.81, 1.06) and 1.35 (1.21, 1.49) for sunitinib and imatinib respectively (mixed recommendations). Post CDF prescribing in England increased for both drugs awaiting NICE appraisal pre-CDF (lapatinib PVR=7.44 (5.81, 9.54), panitumumab PVR=5.40 (1.20, 24.42)) and subsequently rejected. The CDF was not associated with increased prescribing in England of NICE-recommended drugs. The three most recently launched, subsequently recommended drugs were adopted faster in Wales (from pazopanib PVR=0.51 (0.28, 0.96) to abiraterone PVR=0.78 (0.61-0.99)).


These data indicate that the CDF is used to access drugs deemed not cost-effective by NICE. The CDF did not expedite access to new cost-effective cancer agents prior to NICE approval.

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