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MPs debate blood cancer and the Cancer Drugs Fund

The Bloodwise logo. Bloodwise appears in black text against a white background
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07 Jul 2016

MPs will debated blood cancer and the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) in Westminster Hall last Thursday 7 July. You can read the transcript and watch a video of the debate at the link above.

Or you can follow us on Twitter at @bloodwise_uk where we live tweeted the debate using the hashtag #cdfbloodcancer.

Before the debate, Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research at  Bloodwise, the UK’s largest blood cancer charity commented:

“Blood cancer patients were badly let down by the 2015 delisting of 16 indications for seven drugs from the CDF – we have concerns that unless the proposed system for drug appraisal is amended, patients will continue to be unable to access innovative medicines on the NHS.

Blood cancer is a complicated area comprising 137 different diseases – some are common, some are very rare. Blood cancer is the third biggest cancer killer and is responsible for more deaths each year than breast cancer or prostate cancer. At the same time, the UK is a world leader in blood cancer research – we must ensure that patients are able to benefit from this research, and access the lifesaving treatments that UK research helps to create.

While it's clear that the CDF was not a long term solution, it was successful in the short term in providing access to life saving treatments to blood cancer patients. We were hopeful that the CDF would remain in place until a new, sustainable system was implemented. However, we have concerns that the current new system will bring further uncertainty to cancer patients, and particularly those with small patient populations, which includes some blood cancers.

Many of the blood cancer treatments currently on the CDF list are therapies targeted at very small patient populations. NICE’s methodology has regularly been unable to approve such treatments, which are often expensive to develop and highly priced as a consequence.

With the development of precision medicine it will become even more pressing to make sure that the new system works for small patient populations. Targeted drugs for a defined subset of patients, as well as cell and gene therapies will have the potential to provide huge benefits to patients, but will be costly – the new system of assessing drugs must find a way for NHS patients to be able to access such innovative treatments.

We're learning more and more about cancer, which is helping us to find new ways of treating cancer in a cleverer, more targeted way. In order for this trend of scientific understanding and discovery to continue benefiting patients, it's essential that those who help develop innovative treatments can see them reach NHS patients.”

Read more about latest announcement from NICE, who recently approved the chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) drug bosutinib.

Read more about the recent history around the CDF and blood cancer drugs.