British cancer drugs fund changes tack: again

A British cancer drugs scheme, slammed as "stupid" by Roche's chief executive two months ago, has undergone another about-turn, with some medicines dropped from coverage now being reinstated.

The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), which helps patients receive cancer drugs not routinely paid for by the National Health Service (NHS), said on Wednesday that some drugs would remain available after further price negotiations with manufacturers.

"It's great news that some drugs that we thought could be lost from the Cancer Drugs Fund are going to remain available for patients - and at a more affordable cost to the NHS," said Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research.

"However, we now have a situation where some cancer drugs have been off, on, off and now back on the list of available drugs. It's extremely confusing, and for people with cancer it's also distressing."

Roche CEO Severin Schwan, who heads the world's largest cancer drugmaker, had said he failed to understand the logic behind the delisting of certain drugs, including his company's Kadcyla for breast cancer.

Kadcyla is now on the revised CDF list.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by David Evans)