Concerns Raised Regarding Cancer Drug Fund Plans

Charities Issue Warning On Restrictions


A number of cancer charities have revealed concerns regarding plans which could see the treatments made available through the Cancer Drug Fund restricted.

The Fund was designed to give patients in England access to effective treatments deemed too expensive for hospitals to fund. The changes will mean that for the first time, there will be an assessment of a drug's cost, alongside its clinical benefits.

Reports have suggested that more than 40 drugs are expected to be reviewed next month as a result of changes being introduced by NHS England, which are driven by efforts to reduce costs.

There is widespread concern that patients may be denied treatment which would allow them a chance of survival, or months or years of good quality life. Often, the fund is the only way that patients can access this vital treatment.

Specific concerns have been raised by charities including Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which is particularly worried by the inclusion of six drugs for breast cancer on the list of those whose futures are being considered.

Prostate Cancer UK also revealed its concerns about Jevtana being featured on the list, with chief executive Owen Sharp calling for a “long-term solution” that delivers an “overhaul of the way new cancer drugs are appraised”.

The Cancer Drug Fund panel is expected to meet in the middle of December 2014, when financial assessments will take place for the first time.

Expert Opinion
This is an incredibly emotive and important issue and great care needs to be taken regarding the decision making process and the judgments made as a result of it. We have successfully challenged, on behalf of patients, unfair restriction of drug treatment in the NHS in the past.

"The appraisal of drugs for the suitability of the fund is an important step to take, but it is key that this does not lead to the restriction of drug treatment that has the support of the patient’s NHS doctor and which can prolong and in some cases save people’s lives.

"The needs of patients must always come first."
Anne-Marie Irwin, Associate