04/04/2013

Uncertainty Over Cancer Care Fund

Cancer charities have warned that thousands of cancer patients face uncertainty over future access to life-extending drugs when a cash pot ends next year.

The £200m-a-year Cancer Drugs Fund allows patients in England to access drugs approved by their doctors, but which have not been cleared for widespread use on the NHS. It was designed to make it easier for doctors to prescribe treatments even if they have not yet been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Since late 2010, the fund has paid for treatment for around 28,000 patients, but this will end in 2014 and charities have called on the government to ask what will replace the service.

Charity Beating Bowel Cancer said when the public funding runs out, the drugs may no longer be available, meaning 6,427 patients each year could be denied access to medicines.

Charity Chief Executive Mark Flannagan said: "The Cancer Drugs Fund has improved access to vital medicines for thousands of bowel cancer patients many of whom wouldn't be alive today if they hadn't had the treatment. However, we're very worried that the clock is ticking for future bowel cancer patients.

"Without it we fear patients' lives will be put at risk. We simply can't go backwards to a time when cancer patients had to beg for life-extending treatment."

Health Minister Lord Howe said the government would "make sure there are arrangements in place" from 2014 to protect patients receiving treatment with drugs funded by the Cancer Drugs Fund.

He added: "For the longer term, we are considering ways in which patients can continue to benefit from drugs provided through the fund."

(JP/CD)

Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

29 July 2010
£50M Fund For Cancer Drugs Announced
Cancer patients are set to get greater access to cancer drugs recommended by their doctors as a result of a new £50 million fund, the government has announced.
27 October 2010
Cancer Drugs Fund Is £200 Million
A cancer-fighting fund of £200 million a year to help cancer patients get greater access to cancer drugs that their doctors recommend for them was confirmed today by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
08 August 2011
Cancer Survivors 'Should Exercise', Charity Claims
More than a million cancer survivors could be putting themselves at risk of long-term health problems because they are not physically active enough, a report by Macmillan Cancer Support has claimed. The charity's report, Move More, said that of the two million cancer survivors in the UK, around 1.
24 May 2005
Trials for prostate cancer drugs announced
Scientists have announced that they are testing new drugs that could be used to treat advanced prostate cancer. Currently, advanced prostate cancer is treated with hormone therapy. However, this only works for a short period of time, after which there are few other options for the patient, apart from palliative care.
17 June 2005
New drug raises hope of cancer treatment
A prototype cancer drug, which could help fight a range of cancers, has shown “promising results” in clinical trials. Scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research found that the 17AAG drug selectively and potently blocked the growth of a wide range of common cancer cells.