Press Release

UK Cancer Patients Face Increasing Coverage Restrictions

PhRMA July 10, 2014

Washington, D.C. (July 10, 2014)

 – New research results announced today quantify the extent to which centralized value assessments by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) lead to coverage denials and patient access restrictions to new drugs and biologic


. The analysis conducted by Context Matters, and sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), shows that use of centralized cost-effectiveness standards by NICE and similar appraisals in other countries limit patients’ access to new cancer treatments, which evolve rapidly and are increasingly personalized. 

According to the Context Matters analysis 

of NICE decisions over the last seven years (2007-2013):


  • NICE rejected all six cancer medicines that it reviewed in 2013

  • Cancer medicines were more than 3 times likely to be rejected than non


    oncology medicines

  • Nearly 60 percent of oncology medicines were rejected , compared to only 16 percent of non


    oncology products

  • Almost 80 percent of cancer medicines reviewed in the last seven years have been given some kind of access restriction

“These findings underscore the challenges created by coverage and payment policies that rely on centralized, one-size-fits-all value assessments,” said John J. Castellani, President and CEO, PhRMA. “While it’s important to ensure health care decisions are grounded in the best available evidence, it is also essential to ensure it is not misapplied in ways that deny patients’ access to valuable treatment advances. We need approaches that put the patient at the center of health care decision making and support patients and physicians in choosing the treatment options that best meet the individual’s needs.”

Castellani noted that the five-year relative survival rates for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer are higher in the U.S. (67%, 90%, and 65% respectively) than they are in the U.K. (59%, 78%, and 51%, respectively).

Dr. Yin Ho, Founder and CEO of Context Matters, said the findings of this analyses “calls into question whether current HTA models are sufficiently flexible to account for variability in patient needs and preferences and recognize the way that understanding of a new treatment’s value emerges over time.” Dr. Ho was also an author on the study. 


Additional analysis released by Context Matters indicated global variability in the HTA decisions of several major countries’ organizations compared with the UK’s NICE. NICE agreed with other agencies 56 percent of the time over oncology reviews, and 81 percent for non-oncology reviews.


“The degree of variability of these decisions, especially for cancer medicines, illustrates the complexity of the environment our innovator companies must navigate in order to deliver life-saving medicines to patients,” said Castellani. “The fact that the same body of high quality evidence can elicit such different decisions reveals the subjective nature of these assessments.”


Context Matters is a healthcare information and data analytics technology platform company.



The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested more than $550 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $51.1 billion in 2013 alone.


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