Drug funding changes are 'a stealth cut for cancer'

Thousands of cancer patients could be denied access to life-extending drugs under new plans for approving medicines on the NHS, campaigners have said.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is changing its criteria on how funding should be allocated.

Appraisal committees will now be asked to adopt a more "favourable approach" when considering treatments for people whose conditions represent a high burden of illness and where there is a wider impact on society.

Drug funding changes. Credit: Jens BÃŒttner/DPA/Press Association Images

The Rarer Cancers Foundation said a move to abolish the criteria covering end-of-life drugs means there is no guarantee key treatments would be approved in the future.

Andrew Wilson, chief executive of the foundation, said:

"Plans to abolish special rules for drugs used near the end of a patient's life have been slipped out in the small print of this consultation.

"They amount to a stealth cut for cancer."

This comes just a month after NICE said it would reject government proposals to take benefits to society into account.

Last month NICE said the proposals would leave the elderly at risk.