A new report by Cancer Research UK has concluded that a new drug payment system, dubbed an outcome-based payment (OBP), could accelerate treatment of cancer patients.

Commissioned in alliance with the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the report suggests that payment for cancer drugs should be adjusted based on how well they work in practice.

The OBP method would mean that the National Health Service (NHS) could pay a company less for a medicine that doesn’t work as expected, but more if it does.

The report comes as many cancer drugs are becoming increasingly complex and expensive.

Also, in some cases, the full extent of patient benefit cannot be assessed as clinical evidence is still emerging, making it difficult for the NHS and manufacturers to agree on a price, which in turn causes delays in patients accessing potentially life saving medicines.

The report recognises that these cases are where OBP could work, but the approach is not appropriate for all cancer medicines.

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Cancer Research UK policy development head Emlyn Samuel said: “Ensuring cutting-edge medicines reach patients as quickly as possible is vital if we’re to achieve our ambition of three in four patients surviving their cancer by 2034.

“Outcome-based payment is a promising way to get some drugs to patients quickly where the NHS and the manufacturer are struggling to agree a fixed price. This is already happening in other disease areas like hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis.”

“Outcome-based payment is a promising way to get some drugs to patients quickly where the NHS and the manufacturer are struggling to agree a fixed price.”

In compiling the report, the team consulted representatives from the UK Government, NHS England, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as  cancer patients.

Based on the feedback obtained, the report suggests any OBP scheme should link the drug’s price to its impact on survival, disease progression or relapse, long-term side effects and return to normal life.

The team is planning to explore the feasibility of implementing OBP in practice, including the requirement for any improvements to the data captured on patients’ outcomes.

Additional reporting by Allie Nawrat: 

Greater Manchester Cancer Board chair and Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership medical director and executive lead Dr Richard Preece  said: “Our aim is to make sure that the billion pounds we invest in medicines is well spent to ensure the greatest, fastest improvement to the health and wellbeing of everyone who lives in Greater Manchester.

“Partnering with Cancer Research UK is a phenomenal opportunity to continue working towards reducing the use of medicines that are not giving people the benefits they need, ensuring that patients are able to access new and innovative medicines as early as possible and delivering better value for money.”

Cancer Research UK is planning to continue its research into the feasibility of OBP in the UK and encourage the NHS, regulators and industry to work collaboratively to overcome barriers to its implementation.