The final set of PQs tabled by Mark Garnier MP were answered by the now former health minister Paul Burstow MP and relate to the number of patients receiving dasatinib on the CDF (Cancer Drug Fund), access that patients have at different stages of disease progression and the Department of Healths long-term plans on funding Dasatinib. Full details of these results can be found below.

A huge note of appreciation to Mark Garnier, the MP for Wyre Forest, who has been so supportive of my efforts to ask the right question to the right people.

Although the answers are the same stock response trotted out at every opportunity, in particular hiding behind NICE decisions, there are some reassurances given about availability of dasatinib.


Mark Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients have received the drug dasatinib on the Cancer Drugs Fund since the fund was created in 2010. [117336]

Paul Burstow: Under the interim cancer drugs funding arrangements in 2010-11 (from October 2010 to the end of February 2011), five patients received dasatinib. Patient numbers by drug for March 2011 are not available. Based on the latest available information, a further 56 patients have received dasatinib under the Cancer Drugs Fund (from April 2011 to the end of February 2012).

Mark Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps his Department plans to take to ensure that chronic myeloid leukaemia patients have a wide range of treatment options (a) when newly diagnosed and (b) at the second line of treatment; [117335]
(2) what long-term plans his Department has to ensure that those diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia have access to a wide range of treatment options after the end of the Cancer Drugs Fund in 2014. [117337]

Paul Burstow: ‘Improving Outcomes in Haematological Cancers’, published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in 2003, makes recommendations on the treatment, management and care of patients with haematological cancers. The guidance makes recommendations on first and second line treatments for chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). Our Cancer Outcomes Strategy, published on 12 January 2011, makes it clear that the NICE guidance will continue to be a feature of all commissioned services.

This year, NICE has made recommendations regarding a number of drugs for first and second line treatment of CML. On 25 April 2012, NICE published final guidance that recommended nilotinib and standard-dose imatinib for first line CML but did not recommend dasatinib. This followed final guidance, published by NICE on 13 January 2012, that recommended nilotinib but did not recommend dasatinib or high-dose imatinib for patients who are resistant or intolerant to standard-dose imatinib.

Both NICE recommendations concerning nilotinib are subject to a patient access scheme agreed between the manufacturer and the Department that reduces the price of the drug.

There is a statutory obligation on the national health service to provide funding for treatments and drugs recommended by NICE technology appraisal guidance within three months of the NICE technology appraisal guidance being published.

Once NICE publishes guidance, health professionals and the organisations that employ them are expected to take it fully into account when deciding what treatments to give people.

However, NICE guidance does not replace the knowledge and skills of individual health professionals who treat patients. If a clinician feels that a certain treatment would be particularly beneficial to a patient, they can recommend it, even if it has not been approved by NICE, subject to the primary care trust (PCT) agreeing to fund the treatment.

The NHS Constitution states that patients have the right to expect local decisions, on the funding of drugs and treatments: “to be made rationally following a proper consideration of the evidence.”

If a PCT decides not to fund a drug, then it should explain that decision.

We will ensure that there are arrangements in place to protect individual patients who are receiving treatment with drugs funded by the Cancer Drugs Fund as the end of the Fund approaches.

From January 2014, under our plans for value-based pricing, we want all patients, including those with CML, to have better access to effective and innovative new drugs at a price that reflects the value they bring to patients and the NHS.