MPs find no evidence that Cancer Drugs Fund was spent wisely

Hawkes, N. BMJ 2016;352:i755

Image source: Community Friend

A total of £1.27bn (€1.7bn; $1.9bn) has so far been spent on the Cancer Drugs Fund in England, but no data exist to show whether it has been spent wisely, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee says in a new report.


Despite the Department of Health noting when the fund was set up in 2010 that it was important to collect clinical outcomes from the drugs it pays for, few data exist. The department encouraged NHS trusts to collect data but did not require them to do so. When NHS England took over the fund in April 2014 it made data collection mandatory, but the committee still found gaps for 2014-15, with 93% of records having no summary of outcomes.

The health department and NHS England “have not managed the fund effectively” the report concluded.

On the positive side, the committee found that the gap between the United Kingdom and other advanced economies in the uptake of novel cancer treatments had narrowed. In 2009 use of new cancer drugs in the UK was only 45% of the average figure across 13 other countries. But by 2013 it had reached 92%, and NHS England said that it was likely to have improved still further since then. The committee considered that the fund must have contributed to this improvement, even though it applies only in England and not in the rest of the UK.

Carry on reading the commentary article here

Read the full parliamentary report here

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