NHS chief Simon Stevens yesterday announced that NHS England has struck deals to make innovative treatments for Multiple Sclerosis and breast cancer routinely available on the NHS.
From today, hundreds of patients with Multiple Sclerosis are set to benefit from a new treatment option, Mavenclad, following a deal with drug company Merck.
NHS England and Roche have also reached a commercial agreement on the use of Pertuzumab, which unlocks the final stage of NICE’s appraisal and opens the way for continued access to this important treatment for breast cancer.
Speaking at the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference in London, Simon Stevens said: “These innovative deals are concrete examples of how NHS England is now successfully working with the life sciences industry to make treatments available for patients, while securing fair value for taxpayers.
“This announcement shows that for companies who are willing to work with us, there are real gains for them, for the NHS and most importantly for patients able to get new and innovative drugs.”
NHS England has been working closely with Roche, Merck and other companies to help ensure new, effective, but expensive medicines reach patients.
Previous arrangements would be down to industry proposing a price where NICE say yes or no to the drug being made available. NHS England now has more direct involvement with industry, working closely with NICE, to help to find deals that work for patients and taxpayers.
NHS England has recently announced deals to enable patients to access two innovative treatments – Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) for breast cancer and asfotase alfa for a rare bone disease. These deals were reached by NHS England working closely with the pharmaceutical companies – Roche and Alexion – which then allowed NICE to make a decision based on improved terms.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “This is exceptionally good news for patients and their doctors, and we very much hope that NICE will now be able to approve Perjeta as soon as possible. The impact that this treatment has had, and will hopefully now continue to have on the NHS, for thousands of women living with incurable metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones cannot be underestimated.
“Perjeta is an indispensable and life-changing drug, offering women with incurable breast cancer nearly 16 extra months to live compared to other treatments. We’re thrilled that, once more, tough negotiation and flexibility by NHS England and NICE, and the willingness of Roche to put patients first and compromise on price, is set to ensure that thousands of women can be given precious extra time to live.
“This step shows quite clearly that robust deal-making is possible and can achieve real value for money for the NHS and the taxpayer. With uncertainty continuing to surround the consideration of combination treatments for NHS use, we hope that Perjeta will prove a precedent rather than an exception.”
Director of External Affairs at the MS Society, Genevieve Edwards, said: “This is great news for people with relapsing MS. Just 20 years ago we didn’t have any treatment options – now there are thirteen available on our NHS. The decision to grant immediate access is another important step forward and proves how much progress continues to be made. Cladribine offers people with more active MS a new oral therapy which can be taken in two courses, minimising disruption to their daily lives. There are 100,000 people in the UK with MS and we want to make sure that we continue on this trajectory, so everyone can access a treatment that works for them.”
Pertuzumab for breast cancer
Pertuzumab, also known as Pejeta and taken with trastuzumab and docetaxel is licensed to treat HER2-positive breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body, cannot be surgically removed and has stopped responding to other treatments.
The drug has been available via the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) since 2013, benefiting around 1,300 patient per year.
NHS England and Roche have agreed a confidential arrangement on the use of the drug. NICE’s independent appraisal committee will review this additional information before issuing guidance. Meanwhile the drug remains available for new and existing patients via the cancer drugs fund.
Cladribine for Multiple Sclerosis
From this month, those who suffer from highly active relapsing remitting MS can benefit from the drug Cladribine, also known as Mavenclad, the first tablet to reduce relapses for up to four years with just 20 days of treatment. NHS patients in England are the second country in the world to have access to the life enhancing treatment option.
This is one in a series of outcome based payment arrangements agreed by NHS England, enabling patients to have access to new and innovative medicines whilst ensuring it is in the best financial interests of the NHS. In April 2017 NHS England took on new powers to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies offering innovative high value medicines to the NHS.
More than 100,000 people in the UK have MS and around 800 people each year who have highly active relapsing MS can now benefit from the drug. Compared to other therapies for MS, Mavenclad involves taking a tablet for just 20 days in the first two years, followed by no additional treatment in years three and four.
NHS England announced their agreement with manufacturer Merck allowing early access to the drug for patients, alongside a NICE appraisal supporting its use. Patients and clinicians can access the treatment with immediate effect, and will not have to wait the usual 3 months after NICE publishes its final guidance next year, to access Mavenclad.
Manufacturers of other treatment options for MS will have a further opportunity to also offer schemes which improve value to the NHS as part of standard Commercial Medicines Unit tender processes later in the spring.
In September this year, NHS England also announced that the NHS had negotiated a similar pay by cure deal for revolutionary new treatment that can cure Hepatitis C which has saved thousands more lives, led to an unprecedented reduction in liver transplants and is set to cut the nation’s drug bill in excess of £50 million.