Cancer Drugs Fund Changes

The Cancer Drugs Fund is money the Government has set aside to pay for cancer drugs that haven’t been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and aren’t available within the NHS in England. The types of drugs are usually innovative but too expensive to become available for all on the NHS.

The budget for the Fund now stands at £340 million, £140 million more than the initial annual budget when it was set up in 2011.

Since 2011, the fund has paid 84,000 cancer treatments which Nice turned down but since the overspend, NICE will now be given control of its funding.

The new system is due to come into place in July means that NICE will give new medicines a yes, no or maybe rating before they come on the market. Those given a “yes” rating will be available routinely and those with a “maybe” rating can be considered by the Cancer Drugs Fund. They will effectively be in a temporary category where they are funded whilst undergoing further evaluation. If after 2 years they have proved effective, they can then be considered for routine funding on the NHS.

Concern has emerged from cancer charities who believe that many drugs will now struggle to gain approval and thousands of patients are likely to be denied their only hope of life-extending treatment because the system is too inflexible.

15 charities, including Beating Bowel Cancer, Prostate Cancer UK and Breast Cancer NOW have written to the Prime Minister David Cameron asking him to intervene and re-assess the way that the medications are rated. The letter states:

Unfortunately the new system does not update the methodology used by NICE, introduced back in 1999, and many clinically-effective treatments will now struggle to gain approval. We urge you to intervene and commit to a review of the outdated mechanisms used to assess cancer medicines.”

NICE have rejected the stance and believe that the new system would see drugs approved for use widely in the NHS “earlier than any other country in Europe”.

If you or your family have been affected by any issues regarding cancer, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist clinical negligence team on 0800 316 8892 who will be able to advise you further.