Several news outlets, including the Daily Telegraph and BBC News, have reported that UK researchers reviewing the Cancer Drugs Fund have branded the initiative a ‘significant waste of money and a political failure across the board.’
In the study, researchers suggested that the fund, which was designed to pay for treatments that failed to meet the standard NHS cost-benefit criteria, wasted more than a £1 billion for drugs which extended life by an average of ‘just 3.2 months.’ It was also suggested that drugs delisted from the fund by a committee in 2015, were not beneficial for cancer patients.
Responding to the comments, Ms Alex Ford, CEO at Pancreatic Cancer UK said: “When faced with a diagnosis of advanced disease, people with pancreatic cancer can expect to live for just two to six months on average, and 80 per cent of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage. Therefore for people with this disease, the chance to potentially live an extra few months and spend more precious time with loved ones makes an immeasurable difference; indeed a priceless one.
“Pancreatic Cancer UK is, for this reason, urging the public to sign its ‘Every Month Matters’ petition, calling for the bodies responsible for approving life-extending treatments on the NHS to take into account the huge value of extra time for people with just a few months to live. More than 3,800 people have signed the petition so far.
“It’s very disappointing to hear the Cancer Drugs Fund being so heavily criticised when it provided hundreds of people with pancreatic cancer access to life-extending treatment options such as Abraxane, which is currently unavailable to patients on the NHS in England or Northern Ireland.
“Anecdotally, we often hear that a few extra months gained by life-extending treatment can mean the difference between celebrating or missing the birth of your first grandchild, or being present or absent at your daughter’s wedding.
“That is why it is crucial we have urgent reform of the way cancer drugs are approved, so that vital progress can be achieved for such cancers, and more beneficial treatments made available to improve short and longer-term survival. From an economic perspective, we hope NICE, NHS England and the drug manufacturers find a way to make these life-extending treatments available for cancer patients.”