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Wednesday 20th June 2018

Fund for cancer drugs could run out

3rd June 2010

Plans to make more cancer drugs available could cost more than the £200m the government has set aside in its cancer drug fund which is due to start next April.

Figures from drug manufacturers and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) suggest the amount required could rise to £600m, a figure that covers the drugs turned down by NICE in the past five years.

Prof Chris McCabe from the University of Leeds said the cancer fund was not enough to meet the need for access to cancer drugs.

He said: “If you think about the cost of some drugs being £20,000 to £40,000 per patient for a year, you can get through £200m very quickly.

“It is going to be worse than it was before, because patients will believe the government has said they can have any cancer drug the doctor thinks they need and very quickly you will have patients being told by their doctor, 'Well I think you need it but that fund has run out.”

Health economist Professor Alan Maynard said he was concerned about the push for more cancer drugs.

“You are undermining NICE and all the work it does to target resources where we get the biggest health gain,” he said.

He expressed concern that the fund would also see cancer being given preference over other conditions because a combination of drugs companies, patients and campaigners putting the government under pressure.

He said more money for cancer, means less money for motor neurone disease and Alzheimer’s patients.


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