New drug cap comes into force

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has introduced its ‘budget impact threshold’, which gives it the option to delay use of any new treatments that would cost more than £20 million in any of the first three years.

According to Prostate Cancer UK (PCUK) the spending cap could stall up to one-in-five new treatments currently under review, and could also see the next generation of life-saving prostate cancer drugs delayed indefinitely from reaching the men who need them.

Currently, drugs that are assessed as being cost-effective by NICE automatically become available for use in the NHS.

Angela Culhane, Chief Executive at PCUK, said: ‘The decision to go ahead with these plans is a real blow. We are deeply concerned about the impact that this decision is going to have, both for men with prostate cancer in grave need of new treatments in future and also on the many thousands of patients living with other serious conditions, who will rely on new treatments to prevent their condition from deteriorating.’

A group of charities including PCUK gathered nearly 30 000 signatures opposing the planned cap.

NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said the move was needed given the ‘significant financial challenge facing the NHS’.

PCUK is hoping that even though the power now exists to delay the use of drugs deemed cost-effective, sense will prevail and ways will be found to avoid patients being left in limbo.

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