Government announces extension of Cancer Drugs Fund

In collaboration with the Press Association

David Cameron has confirmed plans to invest an additional £400 million in the Cancer Drugs Fund, which provides patients in England with access to life-extending drugs not yet routinely available on the NHS.

A total of £1 billion has now been invested in the fund since it was first established in 2010. The latest investment means it will be available until March 2016, benefiting new patients and guaranteeing continued treatment for current users.

The Prime Minister also announced a new partnership that will see Genomics England and Cancer Research UK team up as part of a Government bid to make Britain the first country in the world to sequence 100,000 genomes - or individual DNA codes - within five years.

Scientists will sequence whole DNA codes from 3,000 cancer patients, along with a further 3,000 whole DNA sequences for their tumours. This will help scientists determine which cancer treatments would be effective.

Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: "Every patient deserves the best possible treatment for their cancer. New treatments targeting the genetic changes in cancer are being developed all the time, and the Cancer Drugs Fund is a vital way for patients to get them as soon as they've been properly tested and shown to work.

"Our partnership with Genomics England builds on our research testing genetic changes in tumours to understand cancer in all its intricate detail. This rapidly-changing research field lays the foundations for even faster progress, saving many more lives from this devastating disease."

Mr Cameron said the new partnership, together with the latest investment in the Cancer Drugs Fund, would provide thousands more people with access to life-saving treatments.

He said: "When I became Prime Minister three years ago many patients with rare cancers were being denied life-saving treatments. That is why we created the Cancer Drugs Fund, it is why we are extending it, and it is why we are partnering with Cancer Research UK to conduct new research into the effectiveness of cancer drugs.

"It is only because we have protected health spending that we can afford these life-saving treatments."

The Cancer Drugs Fund has so far allowed 34,000 people in England access a wider range of cancer drugs.

Copyright Press Association 2013