This petition was submitted during the 2015–2017 Conservative government

Petition The Cancer Drug Fund (CDF) is not fit for purpose and needs to be replaced

The CDF was set up in 2010 as a sticking plaster for cancer drugs not recommended by NICE. The fund currently allows patients to access 37 drugs that are not routinely available on the NHS in England. More than 20 treatments were removed or restricted in January. Further drugs are now at risk.

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With further cuts to the CDF in prospect it is time to review how cancer drugs are funded. The best people to make a decision to whether a drug is suitable or not is the patient and their own oncologist.
NHS purchasing contracts should be negotiated by qualified and experienced negotiators/buyers on a national basis. The NHS has enormous purchasing power it, should be used to good effect.
This will ensure fair access to these life extending drugs for all four countries.

This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 15 October 2015

The Government remains committed to ensuring patients have faster access to effective cancer drugs and the Cancer Drugs Fund has helped over 72,000 people in England receive life-extending drugs.

Read the response in full

The Government recognises the importance of having access to new and promising treatments for people affected by cancer and firmly believes that clinically appropriate drugs that are established as cost-effective should be routinely available to NHS patients. This year £340 million has been invested in the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) and 72,000 people in England have so far received the life-extending cancer drugs that would not otherwise have been routinely available to them.

NHS England is responsible for the operational management of the Fund.
Advances in medical science mean that new cancer medicines are emerging all the time and NHS England needs to regularly prioritise its national CDF list.

Decisions on which treatments are included on the national CDF list are made by the CDF expert clinical panel because it is right these decisions are clinically led.
The panel includes expert oncologists, oncology pharmacists and patient representatives.

Where a drug has been removed from the national CDF list as a result of the re-prioritisation process, any patients currently receiving the treatment under the CDF will continue treatment until they and their clinician consider it appropriate to stop. In addition, clinicians can make Individual Cancer Drug Funding Requests (ICDFRs) on the grounds of clinical exceptionality.

NHS England is currently considering proposals for evolving the CDF in a more sustainable way. At its meeting on 23 July 2015, the NHS England Board set out proposals for the Fund and agreed that any proposals should be subject to public consultation later in the year.

More generally, the Government takes the issue of ensuring rapid access to innovative therapies very seriously, which is why it has launched an Accelerated Access Review, independently led by Sir Hugh Taylor, to make recommendations to Government on speeding up access for NHS patients to innovative and cost effective new technologies.

The aim of the review is to ensure that the UK is the fastest place in the world for the design, development and widespread adoption of medical innovations so that innovative medicines, devices, diagnostics and digital products get to NHS patients as quickly and safely as possible.

The Review will make recommendations to Government by the Spring of 2016 and an interim report will be published later in the Autumn. More information can be found on the Government website at by searching for ‘accelerated access review’.

Department of Health

Other parliamentary business

House of Commons debate on the availability of cancer drugs

On Tuesday 20 October there was a House of Commons debate in Westminster Hall on the availability of cancer drugs. A Government Minister took part in the debate and responded to the points raised.

You can find more information and watch/ listen to the debate or read the transcript by visiting:

You can follow the House of Commons on Twitter: @HouseofCommons