Mid-Derbyshire MP debates over cash for the Cancer Drug Fund

Mid-Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham OBE secured a debate in the House of Commons yesterday about cuts to the Cancer Drug Fund.
Mid-Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham OBE secured a debate in the House of Commons yesterday about cuts to the Cancer Drug Fund.

Mid-Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham OBE has argued that cost cuts should not mean patients miss out on medication and treatment at a debate on the Cancer Drugs Fund held in Westminster Hall.

The debate focused on the removal of drugs from the Cancer Drugs Fund and the effect this will have on patients and the cost of the fund.

The event was also set to include issues surrounding funding, how the drugs are approved and the data, or lack thereof, that has been collected since its inception of the efficacy of drugs available.

Mrs Latham, who has supported the Cancer Drugs Fund, has called for the debate after a constituent contacted her to say that her husband, who has myeloma, will not be able to access the drug Imnovid (promalidomide) after it has been de-listed. This leaves him with the only choice of a bone marrow transplant, which comes with a high mortality rate for patients with myeloma.

She said: “The removal of drugs has hit the people the fund was trying to help hardest. I understand the need to rein in costs but to hear from constituents who have had their hopes for treatment dashed is heart breaking and infuriating.

“For those in advanced stages of cancer some of the last chances to extend survival have been taken away whilst doctors are unable to prescribe drugs they would have been able to previously.

“I’m sure we will hear of many more cases like this and I want the debate on the removal of drugs to be an opportunity for members to raise the cases of constituents and debate the future of the fund”.

The debate took place in the House of Commons as the Belper News went to press yesterday (January 19).

In September 2015, funding for 23 separate cancer treatments on the fund was removed in order to reduce costs which had spiralled since 2013. This meant that from November 2015 these drugs were no longer available to doctors to prescribe to patients. In the first few years of the fund, 2010-2013, there were large differences in access across England.

In the East Midlands the number of patients supported by the fund per new cancer cases was 27, the lowest in the country, compared to 99 in South Central England.

There was also 28 per cent – around £128 million – of the budget not being spent. By contrast, in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, NHS England overspent the allocated budget for the fund by 15 per cent – around £31 million – and 48 per cent – £136 million respectively. 

The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) was introduced in England in 2011. It was established in order to provide a means by which NHS patients could get cancer drugs that are not routinely available on the NHS.