Roche (RHHBY) Chief Blasts U.K. Decision to Not Cover Costs of Some Cancer Treatments
9/8/2015 6:41:16 AM
September 8, 2015
By Alex Keown,
BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
LONDON – Severin Schwan, Roche (RHHBY)’s chief executive officer, blasted the U.K.’s decision to no longer provide funding for some cancer drugs, including Roche’s Avastin and Kadcyla.
Schwan called the decision made by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service “stupid” and “arbitrary,” Bloomberg reported. Schwan called the decision a “mess that needs to be fixed quickly” because it will deny effective treatments to cancer patients all based on pricing.
The Cancer Drug Fund, which was established to help cover the cost of some oncology medicines not covered by the U.K.’s National Health Service, cut 23 treatments, which includes 16 cancer drugs, from its list of therapies. The fund directors made the eliminations after spending projections showed the fund was going to spend more than $150 million over its planned budget of $522 million, the Royal Society of Chemistry reported Monday. Included in the list is Roche’s breast cancer treatment drug Kadcyla, which has an annual cost of approximately $138,000.
Schwan said denying effective treatments will prohibit many people from being able to return to work and be productive members of society.
CDF fund directors said they had to make the decision to “de-list” several drugs “to ensure maximum value for money,” Reuters reported.
While new patients will not be able to access treatment through the fund, NHS England say those already receiving any of the de-listed treatments will not be affected.
Schwann is not the only one to criticize the decision. Alison Clough, acting chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, called the decision “extremely disappointing.”
“Any decision which deprives patients of life-saving and life-enhancing medicines is a significant blow to the health and well-being of future NHS patients. The CDF was specifically set up to allow patients to benefit from timely access to the innovative cancer medicines that are routinely available to patients in other European countries. This announcement flies in the face of that intent,” Clough said in a statement.
The Rarer Cancers Foundation estimated thousands of patients would be affected, the Royal Society of Chemistry said.
Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s Bosulif (bosutinib), which is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia, was also cut from the fund’s plan.
A full list of drugs that will be removed from the cancer fund’s list can be found here.
In addition to the loss of financing for Avastin and Kadcyla, Schwan said the de-listing of the drugs would also have impact on drug research programs in England because drugs like Avastin would no longer be available as standards of health treatments.
"Eventually, this will hurt us on the research side in the UK. This is just a bad decision, not only for patients but also for society as a whole," Schwan told Reuters.
The Cancer Drug Fund was established in 2011 by Prime Minister David Cameron to provide access to such medication. At the beginning of 2015, the fund covered the cost of 84 therapies, but now only covers the cost of 41, the BBC reported.
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