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ABPI urges equal access for cancer drugs

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has warned against variations in access to drugs as part of the Cancer Drugs Fund plan

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has warned against regional variations in access to drugs as part of the government's Cancer Drugs Fund plan.

Responding as part of the consultation process for the proposed measures, the ABPI said that while it has 'strong support' for the fund, the 'right mechanisms' must be put in place to make sure patients across different areas in England and Wales have equal access to drugs made accessible by the fund.

The Cancer Drugs Fund, proposed in October, is a £600m fund over three years to offer cancer patients in England greater access to additional drugs not approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for use in the NHS, but are still recommended by clinicians.

The ABPI also urged close monitoring of the fund's operations, with a focus on how greater access to drugs can affect the longer term outcomes of patients.

"The ABPI and industry welcome the Cancer Drugs Fund as an important step forward in helping patients, but money alone cannot solve the complex issue of increasing access to cancer medicines in line with estimated patient needs," said Dr Richard Barker, director general of the ABPI. "We need a clearer picture of what is happening on the ground so that sustainable solutions can be found and the UK leads rather than lags behind other countries in patient access to cancer medicines and survival rates."

The body's recommendations also include the Department of Health (DH) to make detailed guidance available to the NHS to minimise potential inequities and variability; a set of clear inclusion criteria to be drawn up to identify drugs to be funded; and patient representatives to be a part of local decision making panels.

The ability to transfer money between NHS regions to deal with underspending and overspending issues was also suggested.

The DH has further information on the consultation process, which closes on Wednesday, January 19.

17th January 2011

From: Healthcare

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