Weighing the Cancer Drugs Fund in the Balance: Mis-Guided (If Well-Intentioned) Policy on the Hoof?
The final assessment of Cancer Drugs Fund is that it may have been an uncontrolled, and insufficiently scrutinised, waste of money. In most cases (with some exceptions) it may not have delivered significant benefit to patients. The CDF ran from 2010 to 2016 and probably cost £1.27 billion.
“When it was launched it was not monitored properly. It was politically and intellectually lazy”. Professor Richard Sullivan: King’s College London.
Triggle, N. (2017). Cancer Drugs Fund ‘huge waste of money’. London: BBC Health News, April 28th 2017.
Big pharma’s trade body, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), appears to disagree and has launched a public-relations revenge rebuttal early:
Pym, H. (2017). Are NHS patients getting the best medicines? London: BBC Health News, April 28th 2017.
Investigation Into the Cancer Drugs Fund (National Audit Office)
The cost of the Cancer Drugs Fund was £968 million from October 2010 to March 2015; it is not sustainable without changes.
Investigation into the Cancer Drugs Fund. London: National Audit Office (NAO), September 17th 2015.
Early in 2015 there were 84 funded Cancer Drugs Fund therapies. The September 2015 reduction involved removal of a further 23 courses of treatment, leaving the current total at 41.
Gallagher, J. (2015). Cancer drugs fund cuts 23 treatments. London: BBC Health News, September 4th 2015.
This relates to:
Update on the current Cancer Drugs Fund list. London: NHS England, September 4th 2015.
Decision Summaries recording the formal decisions of the Chemotherapy Clinical Reference Group (CRG) are available:
Cancer Drug Fund decision summaries. London: NHS England, September 2015.
Professor Peter Clark (Head of the Cancer Drugs Fund) speaking about charges for cancer medicines in England asserted there may be further cuts to funded treatments (see above).
NHS chief: ‘Further cancer cuts likely’. London: BBC Health News, January 15th 2015.
The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) budget has increased by 70% since August 2014.
NHS increases budget for cancer drugs fund from £280 million in 2014/15 to an expected £340 million in 2015/16. London: NHS England, January 12th 2015.
NHS England has published an updated Cancer Drugs Fund list, showing the 25 drugs / indications to be removed from March 12th 2015.
Cancer Drug Fund decision summaries: December 2014 decision summaries. London: NHS England, January 2015.
New indications have been included for ibrutinib (relapsed / refractory CLL and MCL) and panitumumab (3rd / 4th line monotherapy of RAS wild-type metastatic CRC).
National Cancer Drugs Fund List. Version 3.0. London: NHS England, January 12th 2015.
BBC News commentary / analysis:
Pym, H. (2015). NHS: Cancer, politics and public money – a difficult mix. London: BBC Health News, January 13th 2015.
Triggle, N. (2014). Cuts to cancer treatments announced. London: BBC Health News, January 12th 2014.
Gallagher, J. (2015). ‘Outrage’ at NHS cancer drugs move. London: BBC Health News, January 7th 2015.
Pym, H. (2014). NHS ‘U-turn’ over drug trial money. London: BBC Health News, November 29h 2014.
The following document was revised after public consultation to provide guidance to support the operation of the CDF in 2014/15, building on earlier Department of Health guidance.
NHS England Standard Operating Procedures: the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF). Guidance to support operation of the CDF in 2014-15. London: NHS England; NHS England Chemotherapy Clinical Reference Group for NHS England, November 10th 2014.