Response to Cancer Drugs Fund Consultation
Posted on 22nd June 2015 by William O'Brien in Lobbying
The Cancer Drugs Fund was launched in 2010 by the Coalition Government and has since spent around £200 million on drugs that were previously unavailable in the NHS, treating around 60,000 patients in England. The fund has been widely hailed as a success, receiving praise from clinicians and patient groups and featuring strongly the Conservative Party’s successful election campaign.
The Fund will continue until at least March 2016 and after this point it will either be renewed or an alternative established. Much of this depends on the financial sustainability of the Fund and its continuing ability to bring treatments to patients with few other options.
As part of this evaluation of its future, changes are being proposed to its format and have been open for public consultation. The changes that NHS England were consulting on were:
* The need for peer review before a QOL score (quality of life score) is awarded
* The use of ‘significant’ rather than ‘major’ as the measure of improvement or deterioration when a QOL score is awarded
* The change of an amendment of the definition of rarity when scoring a drug’s median cost per patient, so that a drug’s potential use, rather than its likely actual use, is taken into account
* Changing the rarity to be used when scoring a drug’s median cost per patient, so that a drug’s use both within and outside the NHS is taken into account?
Brain Tumour Research submitted a response to this consultation. The majority of these amendments are necessary and provide the opportunity for the Fund to reach out to the patients in most need of new drugs that cannot be funded on the NHS. We hope that these amendments will allow for a sustainable Fund that seeks to help secure the treatment for both the youngest patients and those patients battling rarer cancers.
Brain tumours disproportionately affect young people. They are responsible for over 20 years of life lost – more lethal than any other cancer and less than 20% of those diagnosed survive beyond five years, yet the current criteria does not reflect such important factors.
Crucial research is currently prohibited by the lack of recognition of the importance of prioritising research and development which focuses on this patient group. We argued that the addition of a criterion favouring treatments for under 75s would incentivise commercial organisations to invest in the crucial research needed to find a cure for deadly diseases, including brain tumours.
We believe that the changes to the Cancer Drugs Fund are a good start to finding a more effective way to tackle cancer, but strongly believe that more steps should be taken to find treatments that provide the key to beating brain tumours and other rare cancers in particular. As we argue in our manifesto, Invest in a Cure, a ring-fenced Innovation Fund for brain tumours and a clearer view of the research landscape are essential steps to finding a cure for this terrible disease.