Home Health news Cancer drug fund boost for 100,000 as NHS milestone nears after helping thousands of patients including schoolboy, 16, whose ‘life was saved’ by the vital scheme

Cancer drug fund boost for 100,000 as NHS milestone nears after helping thousands of patients including schoolboy, 16, whose ‘life was saved’ by the vital scheme

by Editor

Almost 100,000 patients have now benefited from an NHS scheme that offers fast-track access to potentially life-saving cancer drugs.

The health service is set to hit a major milestone in April when the 100,000th patent will receive medication as a result of the Cancer Drugs Fund.

It offers faster access to more than 100 drugs, covering over 250 permitted reasons for use, which help to improve, extend or save lives.

The CDF, which opened in its current form in July 2016, grants patients access to new drugs before they are authorised for routine use on the NHS.

Officials use the process to collect further data on the cost-effectiveness of treatments so they can decide whether to fund them through usual channels or stop providing them.

Earlier this month, new immunotherapy dostarlimab was one of the latest drugs to be fast-tracked through the CDF, offering hundreds of women with advanced endometrial cancer the hope of significant extra time before their disease progresses.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England (pictured), said the scheme was a 'milestone'

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England (pictured), said the scheme was a ‘milestone’

Yuvan Thakkar, 16, from Watford, (centre) was the first child in the UK to benefit from a pioneering CAR T therapy called Kymriah, thanks to the CDF

Yuvan Thakkar, 16, from Watford, (centre) was the first child in the UK to benefit from a pioneering CAR T therapy called Kymriah, thanks to the CDF 

NHS England says the fund benefits people with common cancers, such as breast, lung, colorectal and prostate, as well as those with less common cancers, such as ovarian, cervical, kidney, skin, myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia, and rare cancers, including thyroid and biliary tract.

It means they can access new drugs almost six months faster than previously.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England, said: ‘Treating 100,000 cancer patients in England with innovative treatments through the Cancer Drugs Fund is a fantastic milestone for the health service to reach, and testament to the hard work of oncologists and their teams across the country.

‘This vital Fund is helping ensure patients get access to the most promising drugs far quicker than would otherwise be the case, helping people with cancer receive a life-changing intervention that sets a path for a longer, healthier life spent with family and friends.’

Since it was established in 2016, 58 innovative treatments have been funded on the CDF while further evidence has been gathered about their long-term benefits.

Thirty-three treatments have since been reappraised, with 28 now routinely available on the NHS.

John Stewart, national director for specialised commissioning at NHS England, said: ‘This huge milestone demonstrates the incredible progress of the Cancer Drugs Fund to date for patients, providing earlier access to innovative and cost-effective cancer treatments.

‘Today’s milestone figure is a major achievement and underlines that through the past eight years, including some of the most challenging times in the history of the health service, NHS staff have always embraced exciting breakthrough medicines to provide their patients with the very best care and treatment.’

Yuvan Thakkar, 16, from Watford, was the first child in the UK to benefit from a pioneering CAR T therapy called Kymriah, thanks to the CDF.

The experimental drug, called ceralasertib, is designed to stop the tumour¿s cells from repairing themselves, causing them to die (stock image)

The experimental drug, called ceralasertib, is designed to stop the tumour’s cells from repairing themselves, causing them to die (stock image)

NHS England says the fund benefits people with common cancers, such as breast, lung, colorectal and prostate (stock image)

NHS England says the fund benefits people with common cancers, such as breast, lung, colorectal and prostate (stock image)

He received the treatment, which modifies a person’s immune cells to recognise and attack cancer cells, in early 2019 at Great Ormond Street Hospital when he was 11 years old.

He had relapsed following other treatments, including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. He is now preparing for his GCSEs this summer.

Yuvan said: ‘My life has changed so much since I received the CAR T therapy.

‘I remember I had to take so many trips to hospital and had long periods out of school.

‘I am extremely grateful to GOSH for providing me with such incredible healthcare throughout my stay.

‘They have helped me recover to a state where I am able to enjoy so many things I love doing, such as playing snooker or pool, meeting friends and family, and going on wonderful holidays.

‘It’s hard to imagine how things would have been if the treatment wasn’t available.’

Yuvan’s mother, Sapna Thakkar, 45, said without the CDF, there may have been no other way for him to receive the life-saving treatment.

She said: ‘Having the funds to treat people like Yuvan, who really need it, is literally a life saver.’

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