Previous articles explain the attempt by the current
Government to’ bridge the gap’ between the UK and other major healthcare
countries on Cancer care spend and outcomes. The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) was
introduced to provide funds to clinicians to use expensive cancer drugs which
haven’t been approved by the funding and standards body, NICE. The table,
recently published shows where the UK stands versus other developed healthcare economies. The World Health Organisation data shows the UK
lagging behind most other countries in terms of spends per % of GDP and the
associated outcomes. Scotland & Wales do not have a CDF as, being devolved nations;
it is their right to choose not to. However, this confuses members of the
public when they see English patients gaining access to complex and expensive therapies that they themselves are excluded from. Press articles frequently herald the arrival of so called ‘wonder drugs’ which further confuses patients.
The UK Cancer Drug Fund began as an election pledge by the Conservatives in the run up to the last election. They pledged to create an Interim Cancer Drug Fund so that the process of bridging the gap between the spend on cancer drugs in the UK versus the rest of Europe. The interim fund became the Cancer Drugs Fund in 2010 and pledged £200 million to get the UK to the EU average in terms of spend. The fund has allowed clinicians to prescribe a range of drugs which hitherto had bot been available to them. The most commonly requested drugs so far have been, Avastin (Bevacizumab) for Breast and Colorectal cancer, Erbitux (Cetuximab) for Head and Neck and Colorectal cancer, Afinitor (Everolimus) for Renal Cell cancer, Tyverb (Lapatanib) for Breast cancer, Mabthera (Riruximab) for Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. Its interesting to note the disparity in the applications from around the country, to the fund (Regionally driven by the local SHA) a recent report shows some starling insights into adoption of the fund.
- There appears to be a north-south divide, with SHAs in the south of England approving a lower proportion of applications. For example, NHS South Central approved approximately 75% of applications whereas NHS North East approved every application received.
- There were significant variations in the application rate. For example, NHS South Central receives two and a half times as many applications as neighbouring NHS South West.
-There appears to be a north-south divide, with SHAs in the south of England approving a lower proportion of applications. For example, NHS South Central approved approximately 75% of applications whereas NHS North East approved every application received.
In total, nearly £27.5 million was spent up to 31 March 2011. This represents 56% of the total allocated funding for the period. When anticipated future costs for patients where treatment was initiated before 31 March are included, this rises to just over £32.5 million and 65% respectively. The Cancer Drugs Fund is too valuable for it not to be utilised. It is for the SHA’s with the lowest adoption to consider why they are not making the fund available to patients. The variance in provision is startling and as new Cancer drugs arrive, underperforming SHA’ swill need to account for their inactivity.
Full Report from the Rarer Cancers Foundation
This is a start in getting access to Medicines in NI where traditionally it has been very slow.
The Northern Ireland Health Minister, Edwin Poots MLA has confirmed that a new process for improving the availability of treatments approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), will soon be in place.
Speaking during Oral Health Questions in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Poots stated that a new revised process to speed up the applicability of NICE-approved drugsDrugs that have been given the go ahead for marketing in the UK. Also called ‘marketing authorisation’, being ‘licensed’ or being ‘registered’. Drugs then have to be 'launched' in the UK before doctors can prescribe them for patients. in Northern Ireland will be effective from 28 September 2011. He said that £22 million is spent every year on cancer medicines in Northern Ireland, but recognised that more needs to be done to improve the availability of NICE-approved medicines and indicated an openness to “exploring other options to increase the resources available to fund access to specialist medicines.” Since July 2006, guidance from NICE has been reviewed for its applicability to Northern Ireland and, where deemed applicable, has been endorsed by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) for implementation by Health and Social Trusts. Recent research by the RCF found that cancer patients in Northern Ireland are denied access to 29 life extending treatments currently available in England: