Changes announced for cancer drug funding

The way some cancer drugs are funded could be changed under new Government proposals. NHS England has revealed plans to update the way its Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) operates.

What does the CDF do?

The CDF currently provides an additional £200m each year to enable patients to access drugs that are not routinely funded by the NHS.

There is now a single, national list of drugs that the CDF will routinely fund. 

While the majority of the list is compiled by the NHS England Clinical Reference Group for Chemotherapy, they will also consider individual requests for medicines to treat rarer types of cancers including those affecting children.


The NHS is now consulting on whether the cost of drugs should be taken into consideration when adding them to the list.

The aim is to remove any drugs that have limited benefits and replace them with drugs that have substantial benefits but don’t cost as much.


Figures show that more than 55,000 patients have now accessed the various CDF treatments since the fund was established.

It was established in 2011 in response to concerns regarding the lack of availability of some cancer drugs in England on the NHS.

Clinicians and cancer specialists believe the changes, if adopted, would improve patient access to the most clinically effective drugs available through the fund.

The aim is to put the fund on a more solid foundation for the future after it recently faced an increase in demand and growing financial pressure.


NHS England will publicly consult for four weeks on a number of the proposals. The consultation follows NHS England’s announcement in August of a £160m boost for the CDF over two years. While the extra funding has gone some way to supporting its future sustainability, clinicians and cancer specialists were clear that effective new treatments could only be added to the list if drugs of limited clinical benefit were removed.

Re-evaluation of the current list of drugs is just one of the proposed changes to the fund’s Standard Operating Procedure.

The new process would allow pharmaceutical company the option of making an appropriate and confidential adjustment to its drug price to allow the drug/indication to remain in the CDF.

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