Cancer drugs protest

More than 100 people protested outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, angry at what they say is a system which denies cancer patients in Wales access to drugs which are available via the Cancer Drugs Fund in England.

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Welsh Govt: Access to cancer drugs is better in Wales

The Welsh Government says it spends more on cancer treatment, per person, than in England - and has seen cancer survival rates improve as a result.

It also says many applications to use the Cancer Drugs Fund in England are not approved - and access to medicines not approved by the official body NICE for widespread NHS use is actually higher in Wales than England.

Our Free Prescriptions policy was introduced to tackle inequities in our health system where some people with major chronic conditions were not entitled to free prescriptions and the cost was putting them off getting their medication.

Our policy on funding the treatment of such conditions is based on clinical evidence and it would be illogical and unfair not to take the same approach with cancer treatment.

We spend £11.92 more per head on cancer treatment than they do in England.

Wales has experienced the fastest improvement in the UK for cancer survival rates since 1993.

The Cancer Drugs Fund, currently operating in England, puts the interests of the big pharmaceutical companies over the needs of the cancer sufferer.

Latest figures show that less than 3 out of 10 applications from the CDF in England were approved.

Compared to Wales, where twice the level of requests for non-NICE approved medicines are approved.

Whilst Afinitor is not recommended by NICE, it can be prescribed in Wales where clinical exceptionality can be demonstrated.

It simply would not be correct to say that it is easier to access Afinitor in England.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Protest over cancer drugs not being available in Wales

Hundreds of people are expected to attend a protest outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay today, to call for an end to what they say is a 'postcode lottery', which denies cancer patients here access to drugs that are being used in England.

Afinitor is one of the drugs that cancer patients say could help prolong their lives - but is not widely available on the NHS. Credit: Afinitor

The Cancer Drugs Fund operates across the border, giving patients access drugs approved by doctors but which have not been given the go-ahead for widespread use on the NHS.

Last month, an extra £400m was invested, to extend it until 2016, in England.

Read More: Cancer Drugs Fund extended in England

Wales does not have a similar drugs fund - and that means patients can't access drugs which, in some cases, they say could prolong their lives.

They want the Welsh Government to act, to end the imbalance between England and Wales.