The UK's Department of Health (DH) has confirmed a Cancer Drugs Fund of £600m over three years to give cancer patients in England greater access to recommended treatments.
A previous statement in July by the DH had announced a £50m fund from October 2010 to March 2011, but this most recent development will see extra funding of £200m a year from April 2011 to the end of 2013.
Panels of doctors for each region, already put in place at the beginning of October, will be in charge of deciding how funding is spent locally, alongside advice from patients' cancer specialists.
"This £200 million a year funding over three years for cancer drugs is a crucial step forward in addressing the disparity in patients' access to cancer drugs in England compared to other countries," said Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
Lansley continued, confirming the fund is only a part of further plans to change access to drugs under the coalition government: "Our longer-term plans will change the way we pay for drugs so that patients get better access to drugs and the NHS and the taxpayer get better value for money."
The extra funding will be used to provide access to additional drugs recommended by clinicians treating cancer patients. The NHS will still fund drugs recommended as clinically and cost-effective by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Speaking on the announcement, Richard Barker, director general of the Association of the British Pharmacetuical Industry (ABPI), said: "Access to cancer medicines on the NHS is generally lower than access to other medicines and lower when compared to other developed countries. This is particularly the case for new cancer medicines launched within the last five years.
"The cancer drug fund is an important step towards the government's goal of providing better access to modern medicines for NHS patients."
A public consultation on the Cancer Drugs Fund will run until January 19, 2011. The DH is seeking views from healthcare professionals, patients, carers and the public.
The DH has further information on the consultation process.