Response to report on value to society of Cancer Drugs Fund from Judith Brodie, Interim Chief Executive, Beating Bowel Cancer
This report published on 28 April from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and King’s College London focuses principally on the cost of the Cancer Drugs Fund over five years and cites examples of alternatives ways in which the Fund, reportedly totalling £1.27bn, could have been used by the NHS.
While there were imperfections in the way the Fund was set up and administered, the underlying intentions were good, focused on prolonging life for many patients whose treatments were not funded by the NHS and giving options not otherwise available. Many of these patients faced the threat of having treatments that were giving them precious extra time and quality of life withdrawn.
Beating Bowel Cancer has many supporters are alive today only because of the Cancer Drugs Fund. We already trail behind other countries when it comes to availability of drugs for advanced bowel cancer: reports such as this misrepresent the true and meaningful value of many treatments made available through the Fund. Bowel cancer patients in England are still denied access to medicines that are routinely available elsewhere in the UK and Europe.
Under the current system, all cancer drugs are appraised by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The jury is out as to whether this will improve access for patients and value for the NHS. We remain concerned about how the recently introduced budget impact test (set at £20 million a year) will affect access to cancer drugs.
The cancer strategy had the ambition of “Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes”. We can only deliver this with a system that makes the best treatments available to every patient.