UK Government

Department of Health (National): Cancer drugs fund will provide £200 million a year

Press Release   •   Oct 27, 2010 12:44 BST

A Cancer Drugs 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.

The announcement follows the Coalition Government’s commitment to create a Cancer Drugs Fund to commence from 2011 to help thousands of patients get increased access to innovative new cancer drugs that extend life or improve quality of life. Following the Spending Review, £200 million a year in funding will be available for cancer drugs from April 2011 to the end of 2013.

In addition to this commitment, £50 million has been available since 1 October, until the end of March 2011, with clinically led panels now set up in each region. These panels put doctors in charge of deciding how this funding is spent for their patients locally, together with advice from patients’ cancer specialists.

A consultation launched today seeks the views of healthcare professionals, patients, carers and the public on these arrangements and other proposals for the Fund’s operation such as:

• ways to support patients and their clinicians in making the best treatment decisions; 
• the need for guidance to support the operation of the process; and
• what the precise scope of the fund should be.

All drugs recommended as clinically and cost effective by NICE will continue to be funded by the NHS. The additional £50m of interim cancer drugs funding and the £200m a year funding set out today will help cancer patients get drugs that their clinicians think they need.

NICE continues to play a pivotal role in ensuring patient access to clinically and cost effective drugs and treatments. NICE has a well-deserved reputation as an international leader in its field and, as set out in the White Paper, it remains at the heart of our plans for liberating the NHS, including significant expansion of its role on quality standards. NICE will continue to appraise most significant new drugs, and will have an important part to play in our longer-term plans to introduce value-based pricing for new medicines.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“I pledged to create a cancer drugs fund so that cancer sufferers and their families could benefit from drugs that their doctors believe could improve their quality of life. This £200 million a year funding over three years for cancer drugs is a crucial step forward in addressing the disparity in patients' access to cancer drugs in England compared to other countries.

“My aim is to truly empower patients. I want to give them more control over their healthcare and ensure no decisions are made ‘about them, without them’. Our longer-term plans will change the way we pay for drugs so that patients get better access to drugs and the NHS and the taxpayer get better value for money.

“This fund is just one example of how we are putting the clinical experts in charge of making decisions. They are the ones who know what their patients need and it makes sense that we give them control of budgets for local people.”

The Cancer Drugs Fund is in addition to what Primary Care Trusts already spend, and clinicians can still apply locally to Primary Care Trusts for exceptional funding of drugs not normally available. The Government’s longer term plans will ensure that patient access to drugs is improved by changing the way the NHS pays for branded drugs in 2014.

The consultation will run until 19 January 2011.

Notes to editors:

1. The £50m cancer drugs funding was announced on 27 July 2010:
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/MediaCentre/Pressreleases/DH_117970

2. This follows the Government's recent announcement of a new campaign that will alert people to the early signs of cancer and encourage them to get checked out, to be launched in January next year:
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/MediaCentre/Pressreleases/DH_119576

3. Professor Sir Mike Richards’ report International Variations of Drug Usage can be found at:
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_117962

4. The White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, was published on 12 July 2010 and set out the Government’s strategy for the NHS.
http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_117353

5. For more information, please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.

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