The survey, published in August 2009, found that 23% of PCTs and 22% of LHBs are still making Velcade (bortezomib) and MabThera (rituximab) only available through Individual Funding Requests (IFR), despite the fact that they are both approved by NICE (although MabThera was only approved in July 2009), suggesting that they are not adequately following NICE’s guidelines.
Leukaemia Care also found there is confusion over which treatments to fund for blood cancer patients. The survey found that 39% of PCTs in England and 30% in Wales fund treatment with dasatinib, even though it has yet to be approved by NICE. It has, however, been approved by the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) but the survey did not show that dasatinib was more routinely funded in Wales, as expected.
Leukaemia Care has expressed concern that PCTs and LHBs are not responding to NICE guidelines for haematological cancer treatments in the same way as they do for other therapies. The body has come up with a five-point plan to help develop a more consistent and transparent process for funding treatment across England and Wales. The five suggestions are:
- The provision of a central reference point for guidance on new treatments;
- The faster introduction of the NHS Constitution, which safeguards the right of patients in England to NICE endorsed therapies;
- The introduction of a specific requirement to collect data on the guidance implementation;
- Better guidance on the use of IFRs; and
- Setting up procedures to record data on the uptake of treatment ‘top-ups’.
Further reading - An in-depth analysis of the UK pharmaceutical market is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: United Kingdom (published June 2009)