A leading cancer charity is concerned over the availability of cancer drugs in the UK, as more treatments are being turned down by NICE and not being made accessible through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
A report by the Rarer Cancers Foundation states that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has been turning down more treatments since the government introduced its Cancer Drugs Fund.
NICE turned down more drugs for use on the NHS in 2011/12
According to the study- reported in the Daily Mail- 11 new treatments out of 19 were rejected by NICE in 2011/12 for not being cost effective. In contrast just seven new drugs were turned down in 2009/10 out of 15 put forward.
This is despite the fact that the average cost of these cancer drugs has decreased since 2009/10, from £51,797 per patient to £44,956 last year. A NICE spokesman said:
“If a drug is clinically and cost-effective then we will recommend it for use on the NHS.”
Patients who want access to unapproved drugs either have to meet the costs themselves, use their private medical insurance or appeal to the Cancer Drugs Fund. The Cancer Drugs Fund, set-up in 2010, is given £200million a year by ministers to pay for cancer drugs that have not been approved by NICE for use on the NHS.
However, the Rarer Cancers Foundation believes that too many patients are being turned away by the Fund, despite £89million of the £200million going unspent last year. Andrew Wilson, chief executive of the charity, said:
“At a time when the Cancer Drugs Fund is underspent, it is unacceptable that patients are still being turned down for the drugs their doctors think could help them.”
According to the report in the Daily Mail, since the Fund began in 2010 it has paid for the treatments of more than 13,000 patients. But 307 were still refused certain drugs even though they were strongly recommended by their specialist doctors.
The fund is to continue until the end of March 2014, but the RCF has raised concerns about the availability of the drugs after this period. Richard Theo, of ActiveQuote.com, said: “Rather than relying on the Cancer Drugs Fund for access to drugs you could compare health insurance policies online in order to find a policy that would fund these drugs if required.
“Private medical insurance complements the service provided by the National Health Service, and would guarantee you treatment with licensed drugs even if they are not approved by NICE.”
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012