The new coalition government plans to create a cancer drugs fund to enable patients to access the cancer drugs that their doctor thinks will help them.
It will also reform the much criticized National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and move to a system of value-based pricing so that all patients can access the drugs and treatment that their doctor says they need. 16, 000 patients have been denied drugs which could extend their lives, even for a short time, because the treatments have not been judged to be cost-effective by NICE.
Asda is to sell all privately prescribed cancer treatment drugs on a permanent not for profit basis as thousands of NHS patients continue to be denied medicines that are deemed too expensive. This could save cancer patients thousands of pounds on the cost of treatments that may extend their lives by weeks, months or years, but which have been judged to be too expensive to be routinely available for free from the NHS service.
Cancer is the UK’s second biggest killer, affecting nearly 300,000 people per year and for many the cost of treatment is well above what they can afford. Lung disease is the biggest cancer killer of women in the UK and at Asda the price of Iressa, used to treat lung cancer, is now £2167.71 compared to £2601.25 at Lloyds Pharmacy, £3251.57 at Boots and £3253.56 at Superdrug.
There are significant variations in the cancer drugs available on the NHS within each trust area. Drugs such as Iressa and Afinitor, which treat lung cancer and kidney cancer, are only available with a private prescription. This means that should a patient require either drug, they have no other option but to pay for it under a private prescription. Some private medical insurance policies cover cancer treatment.