Cancer drugs

We want people to get timely access to the cancer treatment that is right for them, no matter where they live, how old they are or what type of cancer they have.

Access to innovative and effective cancer drugs is an important part of this and we recognise that it isn’t always good enough.

Therefore it is vital that patients and their families, governments, drugs appraisal bodies, charities, clinicians and pharmaceutical companies come together to improve cancer drugs appraisal and pricing systems. We’ve seen changes to the systems in different parts of the UK, but we know that none of these are perfect.


Despite providing access to thousands of patients, the Cancer Drugs Fund in England has become unsustainably overspent, has failed to collect enough data about the impact is has achieved, and has lost its focus on providing quicker patient access to innovative cancer drugs.

This is why Macmillan, as part of a coalition of cancer charities, has been calling on NICE and the NHS to create a better process. We recognise that people have benefited from the Cancer Drugs Fund, but it needs improvement.

Macmillan believes that the changes to NICE and Cancer Drugs Fund processes go some way to achieving this in England. We should see quicker access to new cancer drugs for patients through an updated NICE process, better data collection over a defined period, and a better route for drugs which are shown to be effective to become routinely available.

But there is further work to be done to create a cancer drugs appraisal system we believe will meet the needs of patients. We need to see patient voice reflected throughout the process, a re-assessment of cost-effectiveness thresholds, and fairer drug pricing and negotiation.

  • What is the cancer drugs fund and other information is explained here.


The new cancer drugs system in Scotland was established in 2014 and is currently being reviewed in 2016. Macmillan has been part of the process to change cancer drugs availability in Scotland giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament Health Committee. The system has lacked transparency and too often the old system of individual funding requests meant a postcode lottery for cancer patients.

While we await the outcome of the 2016 review, Macmillan will continue to campaign for a clear and transparent system of funding cancer drugs in Scotland.


Wales / Cymru

Wherever they live and whatever their age, cancer patients in Wales should be able to access clinically effective evidence-based treatments in a fair, consistent, timely and transparent way from the point of diagnosis onwards.

The Welsh Government must always ensure that fair, consistent, timely, transparent and sustainable policies and processes are in place to ensure cancer patients in Wales can access clinically effective evidence-based treatments from the point of diagnosis onwards and address any gaps or variation in provision.

Cyffuriau Canser

Ble bynnag maent yn byw a beth bynnag yw eu hoed, dylai cleifion canser yng Nghymru allu cael mynediad i driniaethau sydd yn effeithiol yn glinigol, yn seiliedig ar dystiolaeth mewn ffordd deg a chyson, amserol a thryloyw o’r adeg y maent yn cael diagnosis ymlaen.

Mae’n rhaid i Lywodraeth Cymru sicrhau bob amser bod polisïau a phrosesau teg, cyson, prydlon, tryloyw a chynaliadwy wedi eu sefydlu i sicrhau bod cleifion canser yng Nghymru yn gallu cael mynediad i driniaethau sydd yn effeithiol yn glinigol, yn seiliedig ar dystiolaeth o’r adeg y maent yn cael diagnosis ymlaen a’u bod yn mynd i’r afael ag unrhyw fylchau neu amrywiad o ran darpariaeth.


Northern Ireland

We support the recent review of the Individual Funding Request system, which has the potential to create a much more open and transparent system. We oppose any suggestion that a universal prescription charge should be introduced to fund specialist medicines. It is also vital that priority is given to NICE-approved drugs, the availability of which has been limited by budgetary constraints in the last financial year.