Today, NHS England’s thoughts turn to the future of the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) as it makes a landmark decision following a consultation on next steps for the Fund. Target Ovarian Cancer Chief Executive Annwen Jones has been one of three lay representatives on the Cancer Drugs Fund Panel since 2014, giving her a unique insight into the Fund, and an ability to ensure that a patient voice is heard in the CDF’s decision-making process.
The CDF was set up in 2010, and its budget was extended to run until the end of March 2016. A consultation on future of the CDF was announced last year, and Target Ovarian Cancer contributed to ensure the views of women with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer were heard.
Today, the NHS England board has discussed a paper proposing a new model for the CDF. However, important questions remain unanswered. In particular there are two simple changes needed to give The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) the same flexibility when it comes to approving off-license drugs and negotiating on price that the CDF currently has. This would mean drugs like Avastin (bevacizumab), which can offer women with advanced ovarian cancer up to nine months’ overall survival, continue to be available.
Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “Women with ovarian cancer are extremely worried about the future of the Cancer Drugs Fund. Put simply, drugs currently available to treat ovarian cancer through the Fund have prolonged lives, at a time when there are very few options for women with this disease.
“Important questions remain unanswered with this proposal. NICE needs to have the same flexibility as the current CDF when it comes to approving off-license drugs and negotiating on price. This would mean drugs like Avastin, which can offer women with advanced ovarian cancer up to nine months’ overall survival, would continue to be available. The Cancer Drugs Fund must retain the power to make a real difference to people’s lives in the face of budget cuts.
“We also need more information on how patients are to be involved in taking decisions in the new system and how the end of life criteria will adequately reflect the very short prognosis sadly faced by all too many women with ovarian cancer. Without these details, the current reforms are little more than a leap in the dark.”
If you would like to do more, then you can email your MP asking them to write to the Secretary of State for Health asking for these two simple changes that would guarantee the future for Avastin for women with ovarian cancer living in England.