Charities have demanded an increase in the £280m budget for a fund that has given 55,000 cancer patients access to life-saving treatments, and medicines that have improved lives or made terminal illness more comfortable.
Fears are growing that a number of expensive drugs will have to be dropped by the Cancer Drugs Fund next month in a reassessment of the affordability of about half the medicines not routinely available on the NHS. The life sciences minister, George Freeman, has revealed in a parliamentary answer that the fund is already on course to "exceed" its 2014-15 budget, which was increased by 40 per cent to £280m.
Set up three years ago by David Cameron, the fund is due to expire in 2016, although it has not yet been decided what form its replacement will take. Owen Sharp, the chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, said this weekend that cancer patients must not be neglected over the next two years simply for "financial reasons".