Following the update on Sir Andrew Dillon’s letter below, I thought it was time to kick-start a campaign to ensure that, even though Dasatinib will not be available on the NHS (as per the final guidance from NICE here), it IS made available on the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

About the CDF

In essence, the CDF has been designed to fund treatment options which have been rejected by NICE or those which have not yet been given a final recommendation by NICE. Currently therefore, while Nilotinib and Imatinib should be available on the NHS, patients should be able to access Dasatinib on the CDF. However, access can depend on geographical location.  This is because it is for individual, regional ‘cancer networks’ to approve a drug which will be available on a local CDF list. These ‘priority’ lists, which list those treatments that are funded on the CDF in a locality, are required to be kept under regular review. As Dasatinib will not be available on the NHS when newly diagnosed or as a second-line treatment, it should be available on the CDF as long as local lists include it.

So, while there is little more we can do with NICE than register our incredulity at their decision (as per my blog entry below), the most effective thing we can do is to ensure that Dasatinib is included as a treatment on every single CDF list across the country. We must do everything we can to ensure all patients can access Dasatinib on the CDF when they need it.

What we will do

We will be writing to each SHA (strategic health authority) responsible for deciding which treatments it makes available on the CDF, asking them whether it currently makes Dasatinib available or not. We know that updates are meant to take place quarterly, so after three months, we will approach SHAs again to see if they have since included Dasatinib on their lists. The aim is to see whether Dasatinib is available to all patients in England – and if not, to identify those areas that don’t make Dasatinib available. The plan will then be to take the evidence to Parliament, and for those areas that don’t include Dasatinib within their lists of treatments available on the CDF, to ramp up the Parliamentary pressure to review why Dasatinib isn’t available. It will be a long-term campaign, but watch this space…

What you can do

In the meantime, you can email or write to your local MP and let them know how disappointed you are that Dasatinib has not been made available at first or second line on the NHS, and ask for their support in ensuring that the treatment is available on the CDF, given that evidence shows that Dasatinib is clinically effective, and can be the only suitable option for a number of CML patients. You can ask them to table some written Parliamentary Questions on the issue, so that we get official answers in parliament about the issue. You could ask your MP to table questions along the lines of:

  • What can be done to ensure that CML patients have access to a wide range of treatment options when newly diagnosed, or at second line?

  • What can be done to ensure patients receive Dasatinib on the CDF?

  • Ask about the number of people who have been diagnosed with CML in each of the last five years

  • With the Cancer Drugs Fund scheduled to end in 2014, what are the long-term plans to ensure that those diagnosed with CML have access to the widest range of treatment options?

 (You can identify your local MP by entering your postcode at this link: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/)

As ever,

Kris