Bowel cancer drug funding fears

As many as 6,500 bowel cancer patients could be denied access to life-extending drugs when a cash pot to pay for them ceases to exist at the end of the year, a charity has warned.

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Male bowel cancer on the increase

  • Bowel cancer rates among men have soared by more than a quarter in the last 35 years, Cancer Research UK have said.
  • Incidence of the disease has climbed from 45 cases per 100,000 men in 1975-77 to 58 cases in 2008-10.
  • Over the same time period, rates for women have increased only slightly from 35 to 37 per 100,000.
  • Increasing rates of bowel cancer may be linked to obesity and diets high in red and processed meat and low in fibre.
  • Another key factor is the increasing age of the population.
  • But why there should be such a stark difference between men and women is still unknown.
  • Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK after lung cancer.

Clock is ticking for bowel cancer patients, charity warns

We're very worried that the clock is ticking for future bowel cancer patients.

The uncertainty around how these drugs will be funded in the years to come will mean patients who could benefit from having treatment in the future, may be denied access because the money isn't there to fund it.

It is vital that the funding remains in place to ensure that bowel cancer patients will continue to get access to the drugs which their doctors say they need on the NHS.

Without it we fear patients' lives will be put at risk. We simply can't go backwards to a time when cancer patients had to beg for life-extending treatment.

– Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer


What is the Cancer Drugs Fund?

  • The Cancer Drugs Fund is money the Government has set aside to pay for cancer drugs that haven’t been approved by NICE and aren’t available within the NHS in England.
  • This may be because the drugs haven’t been looked at yet or because NICE have said that they don’t work well enough or are not cost effective.
  • The Government have said that the fund is worth £200 million per year.
  • The Cancer Drugs Fund started at the beginning of April 2011.
  • This fund is shared between the 10 Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) in England.
  • The fund is to continue until the end of March 2014.
  • From 2014 the Government plan to introduce a new way of setting prices for cancer drugs which aims to make more drugs routinely available in the NHS.

Concern over bowel cancer drugs funding

As many as 6,500 bowel cancer patients could be denied access to life-extending drugs when a fund set up to pay for them ceases to exist next year, a charity has warned.

The charity Beating Bowel Cancer says it is concerned about the availability of drugs when The Cancer Drugs Fund - worth £200 million - stops in 2014.

6,500 bowel cancer patients could miss out on treatment. Credit: PA

The fund was set up for patients in England to access drugs approved by their doctors but which have not been given the go-ahead for widespread use on the NHS.

The aim of the fund was to make it easier for doctors to prescribe treatments even if they have not yet been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

A spokeswoman said that 6,427 patients every year could be denied access to the medicines when the cash flow dries up.

The charity is calling on ministers to create a "workable alternative" to provide the drugs to patients beyond January 2014

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