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£50m additional funding for cancer drugs

£50m additional funding for cancer drugs

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 27 July 2010

Cancer patients are to get greater access to cancer drugs recommended by their doctors as a result of a new £50 million fund announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today.

Publishing a report by National Cancer Director Professor Sir Mike Richards on international variations in drug usage that shows the UK’s uptake of new drugs falls behind other European countries, the Health Secretary said that from October, an extra £50 million will be available to help patients get access to innovative new cancer drugs.

The funding means that cancer patients will be able to access these drugs now to help extend life or improve quality of life, ahead of longer term plans to change the way the NHS pays for drugs. This interim measure will help those cancer patients who need access to drugs now, and precedes the Cancer Drugs Fund due to commence in April next year. Doctors will be put in charge of deciding how the funding is spent for their patients locally based on the advice of cancer specialists.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“I promised that I would help patients in England get cancer drugs that are readily available in the rest of Europe. It's a scandal that we are strong in cancer research and participation in clinical trials in the UK, yet NHS patients aren't always seeing the benefits from the research swiftly enough.

"Patients should have access to innovative cancer drugs that can extend or improve their quality of life and which their doctors have recommended, which is why I'm determined to take action now. This funding will help to ensure that this happens, and that we meet the needs of cancer patients immediately while we set about our longer term plans to change the way we pay for drugs so that patients get better access to medicines and the NHS gets better value for money.

“I thank Professor Sir Mike Richards for his thorough review. This shows that whilst, like other countries, our uptake of drugs across different disease areas is mixed, we need to act now to improve access to newer cancer drugs.”

National Cancer Director, Professor Sir Mike Richards said:

“My report shows a mixed picture in the uptake of drugs across a range of diseases and conditions. In the UK, we have shown encouraging results in NHS usage of statins to reduce cardiovascular disease.

“My findings show however, that usage of new cancer drugs is relatively low in comparison with international averages and I therefore welcome the additional £50 million being made available this year for cancer drugs. This will mean that cancer patients will begin to benefit from new drugs now in advance of the main Cancer Drugs Fund which will start from April next year.”

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:

"The UK is a world leader in researching and developing innovative medicines to improve health and save lives. The swift uptake of new treatments within the NHS is vital so patients can benefit, and I welcome Professor Richards’ recommendation that we need to do more to achieve this.

“Sustaining the rapid adoption of new advances is also important to promote research and development by the life sciences industry. Through the Office for Life Sciences, my department is committed to working with the Department of Health to ensure that the changes we are making to the NHS deliver both health and economic benefits.”

In taking forward the work of the White Paper, the Government will be seeking the views of healthcare professionals, patients, carers and the public to engage them in taking control of their NHS. The consultation on proposals for the Cancer Drugs Fund from April 2011 will be launched later this year.

Notes to Editors

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.

Professor Sir Mike Richards’ report International Variations of Drug Usage can be found at: £50 million funding will be available from October 2010. For more information please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221.


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221

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