As details dribble out about which treatments are going to be cut from the Cancer Drugs Fund, Novartis, which expects to see Afinitor chopped, has added its voice to criticism of the de-listing process.

The Swiss major says the methodology being used is “unacceptable as it is insufficiently robust and transparent”. It has “strongly urged NHS England to stop the process now and enter into constructive dialogue with all stakeholders to find an equitable solution, including immediate steps to reform the NICE process”.

Novartis adds that while decisions about the listing of drugs on the CDF “have previously been based exclusively on clinical effectiveness criteria, the revised process now includes a crude cost element which does not reflect the true value of cancer drugs”. The firm adds that “this process has been conducted in a way that breaches fundamental principles of transparency and undermines the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme that was introduced with the express intention to increase patient access to innovative medicines”.

Afinitor (everolimus), which is approved for advanced breast and kidney cancer, as well as pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours, has been available for several years, “having been deemed clinically effective under the previous CDF listing process”, Novartis notes. It argues that “the process must be stopped or patients will face an unacceptable ‘time of diagnosis’ lottery where they can only access these drugs if they are diagnosed before March 12, 2015”.

Novartis concludes by saying that it strongly believes “new ways to evaluate cancer medicines are needed, and is actively working with industry partners and policymakers to develop a new approach”. In the interim, it suggests that “immediate changes could be made to the NICE process to allow more cancer drugs to be approved [which] would significantly decrease the pressure on the CDF budget”.