Cost-Effectiveness Standards in the UK Lead to Restrictions in Patient Access to Cancer Therapies

Cost-Effectiveness Standards in the UK Lead to Restrictions in Patient Access to Cancer Therapies

07.11.14 | By Randy Burkholder

The debate over the cost and value of innovative medicines has prompted some to make renewed calls for use of a cost-effectiveness or similar standard in the U.S. One example of this was highlighted in a recent column by Ed Silverman at the Wall Street Journal.

PhRMA released new analysis this week that underscores the challenges that use of a centralized cost-effectiveness creates for patient access to life-enhancing medicines and the future innovation of treatments. According to research from the firm Context Matters [LINK], the U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended against coverage of cancer medicines 56 percent of the time, compared to 16 percent of the appraisals for non-oncology diseases that were included in the sample. Overall, NICE issued either “do not recommend” or “recommend with restrictions” appraisals 60 percent of the time for non-oncology drugs included in the sample, and 79 percent of the time for oncology drugs. The analysis conducted by Context Matters included a broad cross section of 161 NICE technology appraisals from 2007 to 2013 across a diverse range of diseases and conditions.

We strongly support developing sound evidence for use in advancing the efficient delivery of high-quality, patient-centered care. The new analysis of the U.K.’s centralized cost-effectiveness model illustrates why it is essential to advance approaches in which evidence can be used to optimize care of the individual without impeding patient access to new treatment options. 

Finally, in case you missed it, at the end of the Wall Street Journal column there was a poll asking readers if age limits should be placed on the use of cancer medicines.  So far, about 70 percent of the voters said no. 

How would you vote? 



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