New cancer drugs to be available in Wales through new deal

A new deal with pharmaceutical company Novartis will give patients in Wales access to new cancer drugs which are not currently routinely available in Wales, the Deputy Minister for Health has announced.

Speaking at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Cymru’s autumn conference, the Deputy Minister for Health Vaughan Gething revealed details of the agreement – the first if its kind in Wales.

The deal will give patients access to the medicine everolimus – marketed under the trade names Afinitor and Votubia – to treat certain types of advanced renal, pancreatic and breast cancers and non-cancerous brain and kidney tumours associated with tuberous sclerosis complex. These medicines are not currently routinely available in Wales.

As part of the agreement Novartis will invest around £1.3m in Wales to set up a study on breast cancer in the main oncology centres and collect outcome data for the patients with metastatic breast cancer receiving everolimus (Afinitor) plus exemestane (Aromasin).

In addition, the company is also investing an estimated £150,000 to support six programmes delivering service redesign, healthcare professional education and development, improved patient interaction and support and a tuberous sclerosis complex clinic in Cardiff.

Mr Gething said:

“Healthcare accounts for a substantial part of Welsh public spending and in this unprecedented age of austerity, with the challenges facing the NHS and growing healthcare demands, it is of utmost importance that we address the health needs of people in Wales and ensure they have access to innovative, leading edge technologies that are both appropriate, effective and affordable to meet their needs.

“This unique deal shows how we are working to make sure patients have access to the latest, innovative, cost-effective medicines.

“Novartis is keen to collect additional real-world data and this two-year agreement reflects collaboration between the industry and the NHS to strengthen the evidence base, ultimately for the benefit of patients in Wales and others across the UK.

“I understand the attractiveness of Wales as a place for the pharmaceutical industry to do business depends on whether companies have their medicines approved for use in Wales. Facing this challenge we must be more creative in our thinking and identify areas for mutual collaboration to ensure new medicines are cost-effective for use in NHS Wales.”