New £600m cancer drug fund announced by DoH

The Department of Health has announced a new £600 million Cancer Drugs Fund – aimed at giving cancer patients greater access to cancer drugs that their doctors recommend for them.

£200 million a year in funding will be available for cancer drugs from April 2011 to the end of 2013 in a move that the Government hopes will “help thousands of patients get increased access to innovative new cancer drugs that extend life or improve quality of life.”

The plan is to also try and address the UK’s poor record of cancer drug provision compared to other countries.  A recent Department of Health report ranked the UK 12th out of 14 countries, including much of Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, in terms of the uptake of new cancer drugs which had come on the market within the last five years.

The slow uptake of new cancer drugs in the UK is due in part the lengthy approval process for new treatments by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said, “This £200 million a year funding over three years for cancer drugs is a crucial step forward in addressing the disparity in patients' access to cancer drugs in England compared to other countries.”

Currently, cancer sufferers receiving treatment on the NHS are able to pay for additional drugs privately, without losing their NHS treatment; but whilst this can give patients wider access to new cancer drugs, the costs can be substantial.

Recent figures from PruProtect show that patients seeking private drug treatments can face crippling costs of up to £70,000 per year.  These costs are beyond the means of many people and those without the right life insurance in place to help them are often forced to remortgage their home or use retirement savings to pay for treatment.

Having the correct life insurance protection policy in place could mean the difference between getting vital treatment or not, if you were diagnosed with cancer.

A Critical Illness policy for example would cover you if you were diagnosed with cancer (or a range of other serious illnesses, depending on the policy) and the cash lump sum it provides following a claim could be used to pay for expensive treatment or drugs not available on the NHS.  It would also allow you to safeguard your home and the money you have earmarked for your family’s future.

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