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National Audit Office report confirms cancer patients in England have poorer access to medicines than those in Europe

The National Audit Office’s report Progress in improving cancer services and outcomes in England, published 15 January, confirms that cancer patients in England have poorer access to life-saving and life-enhancing medicines than cancer patients across Europe adversely affecting their health outcomes and survival rates.

Commenting on the report’s publication, Stephen Whitehead, CEO ABPI said: “I am pleased to see that outcomes for cancer patients in England are slowly improving. This is testament to the hard work of many thousands of professionals dedicated to curing and caring for people with this disease which affects every one of us. It is however disappointing that, in the four years since the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts reviewed the Department of Health and NHS performance in delivering cancer services, the rate of improvement has been so slow and that older and less well-off patients continue to be disadvantaged.

“Development of new, innovative medicines plays a significant role in improving outcomes for cancer patients and it is shocking to see confirmed, once again, that cancer patients in England are denied the same level of access to these medicines as their European counterparts, meaning thousands of UK patients are missing out on life-enhancing treatment when they need it most. Whilst we may be less likely to develop cancers in this country our chances of survival are reduced, in part due to a lack of access to the right treatments.

“The Cancer Drugs Funds was introduced as a temporary measure to enable the same level of access to medicines for patients as routinely available in the EU. As today’s report points out, we have no evidence that the CDF is working due to a lack of data from which to evaluate its performance, but we can see from patient experience that it has proved nothing more than a sticking plaster having little affect at redressing the balance.

“Now is the time to find a long-term, sustainable solution for evaluating the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of all medicines and we believe that the only solution remains the urgent reform of NICE. We welcome all opportunities to work with NHS and the Department of Health, including through the recently-formed taskforce for cancer services and the Innovative Medicines and MedTech Review, in order support transformation of the health care system so that it enables all patients to access the right medicines at the right time, whatever their condition.”


Source: Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry