UK Cancer Drugs Fund to be expanded for non-cancer therapies

The proposed ‘Innovative Medicines Fund’ extends the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) to include non-cancer diseases and is expected to be introduced in 2021. This new fund could accelerate access for breakthrough medicines and allow patients to benefit sooner from innovative treatments, as the CDF has achieved within oncology.


In recent years, the demand for greater flexibility in the NICE HTA process for non-oncology therapies has become apparent as Vertex Pharmaceuticals entered into a data collection agreement with NHS England and NHS Improvement allowing patients access to Kaftrio, Symkevi, Orkambi and Kalydeco while more data are collected to address clinical uncertainties. The Innovative Medicines Fund is likely to provide a routine mechanism through which promising non-cancer therapies could be temporarily reimbursed while allowing for uncertainties to be addressed with additional data.


Market access in the UK is in transition

2021 is a year of substantial change in the UK for market access. In addition to expansion of the CDF the following changes either have been implemented or are expected within the year:

  • The MHRA have introduced new routes for marketing authorization including collaborations with other regulatory agencies to supplement the temporary EU/EC reliance procedures in place following Brexit.
  • NICE are currently reviewing their methods and processes to produce guidance for health technologies with the aim to become faster and more efficient, with implementation expected in October 2021.


History of the CDF

Since its inception in 2011 the CDF facilitated faster access to cancer therapies. However, its original form was financially unsustainable and lacked criteria for drugs leaving the fund which resulted in its reform. Since the relaunch of the CDF in 2016, it has allowed temporary funding and access to therapies with plausible potential to satisfy criteria for routine commissioning but with significant remaining clinical uncertainty which need further investigation.


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