Ovarian cancer survival rates, and the treatment options available for women, have changed little in the last 20 years, and there is an urgent need for investment in new life-extending treatments. Of desperate concern is the variation that women across the UK experience in attempting to access the few new drugs that have shown promise, resulting in huge inequalities in treatment available.
What needs to change?
Across the UK, we support an evidence-based drug appraisal system that permits genuinely innovative and effective drugs to be approved for routine use on the NHS - and provides clinically defensible rationales for the drugs that are not approved to the patients that would have benefited.
The system should allow clinicians the flexibility to prescribe the drugs that evidence shows would benefit their patients, both for routine and exceptional cases.
- All women with ovarian cancer should have access to the latest and best treatments.
- Geographical variation of access to drugs should end – we must avoid circumstances where women in one area are getting the latest drugs while women in neighbouring areas are being refused the same treatment.
- The system for appraising drugs needs to be open, transparent and consistent so that patients can have greater certainty around what drugs they can receive, at prices that are affordable to the NHS and allows the pharmaceutical industry to make a fair return on their investment.
- Governments across the UK, NICE, Scottish Medicines Consortium, All-Wales Medicines Strategy Group, and the pharmaceutical industry, must work collaboratively with patient groups and charities like Target Ovarian Cancer, to ensure that the patient viewpoint is adequately represented when the decisions about drug availability are made.
- A longer-term solution is needed throughout the UK which will ensure that women with ovarian cancer can continue to access the best treatments.
Our campaign so far
- Target Ovarian Cancer is a registered stakeholder of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. We respond to all Technology Appraisals relating to treatments for women with ovarian cancer working with clinicians to submit written evidence, and providing oral representations on behalf of women
- Our Chief Executive, Annwen Jones, is a member of the Cancer Drugs Fund Panel, giving her a unique opportunity to be part of drug decision-making processes.
- As Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ovarian Cancer at Westminster, we have informed MPs, Lords, government ministers and senior officials about the importance of access to the latest treatments for women.
- In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales we engage with the Scottish Medicines Consortium and All Wales Medicines Strategy, to ensure direct representation of women in the decision-making process for new drugs and we have campaigned against the post-code lottery
- The Welsh government recently announced a review process for accessing drugs on the NHS, following campaigning by Target Ovarian Cancer and many active campaigners in Wales.
- We have now responded to the Government's consultation on the Cancer Drugs Fund and we have used what you told us throughout our response.
- Drugs that are currently under evaluation in the UK are olaparib, and Avastin for women with a recurrence of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. If you have accessed these drugs, please get in touch to tell us about your experiences.
- If you are struggling to access the drugs you feel you should be able to, anywhere in the UK, please get in contact, and we can support you with applications and challenging decisions.
- Share your story with us - it is the stories from people who have experienced ovarian cancer firsthand that influence change, and that inspire women or family members in similar circumstances.
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