A government fund set up to help cancer patients access drugs unavailable on the NHS needs ‘urgent reform’, MPs have warned.
Established in 2010, the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) has helped an estimated 80,000 patients across England obtain drugs that are not routinely available on the NHS.
But the House of Commons public accounts committee (PAC) says the Department of Health and NHS England are still unable to assess the clinical benefits for patients or demonstrate whether it is an effective use of taxpayers’ cash.
According to the PAC report, the scheme’s budget more than doubled from £175m in 2012/13 to £416m in 2014/15, an increase of 138 per cent in two years. It then went on to overspend its £480m budget for both 2013/14 and 2014/15 by £167m.
NHS England must make “tough decisions” to prevent what they say is unacceptable overspending, the committee warned.
MPs concluded that the fund has been mismanaged and is unsustainable in its current form. They also claimed that NHS England had failed to take action to control the soaring costs until November 2014.
Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, told GP Online: “The cancer drugs fund has enabled thousands of people to receive drugs not normally available to them through the NHS. While this is welcome, it’s also clear the fund requires significant and urgent reform if it is to be sustainable.
“A vital step in addressing the financial challenges must be to properly evaluate the health benefits of drugs provided through the fund.
“We will be closely monitoring the progress made by the DH and NHS England in the months ahead.”