Further to the media attention we received yesterday in trying to get some answers on the Cancer Drug Fund and the future funding for dasatinib I’m sending the Shadow Secretary of State for Heath, Andy Burnham another letter. I didn’t receive an answer to my February correspondence with him. K.

Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
House of Commons
London    SW1A 0AA

5th April 2013

Dear Mr Burnham,

My name is Kris Griffin and I am the founder of the Access CML Drugs Blog, which campaigns to improve patient access to treatments for Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML). I wrote to you about the issues facing CML patients in early February, however I have not yet received a response. You may remember that we briefly discussed this issue at the Britain Against Cancer conference back in December and I would welcome the opportunity to have an exchange of views about the availability of treatment for the disease and current access to medicines arrangements.

You will be aware that the future of the Cancer Drugs Fund is an issue that has received significant media attention this week. A number of patient groups have raised concerns that when the fund ends in April 2014, patient access to medicines will be severely restricted. This is certainly true for CML patients as the only NICE approved drugs available are imatinib and nilotinib. However for a number of patients, including myself, these two treatments are not effective.

There are now fewer drugs available for the treatment of CML than when I was diagnosed five years ago. Due to the vagaries of the NICE appraisal process, the drug that has kept me alive, dasatinib, is no longer available via the NHS. In the majority of cases, access through the Cancer Drugs Fund is the only way that patients can receive life-saving treatments such as dasatinib.

Whilst I understand that you do not support the continuation of the Cancer Drugs Fund, I would be keen to hear your views on how patient access to treatments could be improved. Particularly, I would be interested to hear how this issue sits within Labour’s recently announced health policy review. Similarly, I was also interested to hear your recent policy announcement on the future of the NHS and the prospect of “whole person care”. While I hope that your plans to change local commissioning of services can lead to less geographical variation in the treatment of rarer cancers, I would be very keen to hear your views on how access to medicines arrangements would operate under this system. I would be more than happy to work with you on this issue and help ensure that patients are able to have access to the widest range of cancer treatments.

The situation I have described is not unique to CML and many people suffering from rarer cancers will experience the same trouble accessing potentially life-saving medicines. That is why access to medicines programmes such as the Cancer Drugs Fund are so important. I would be delighted to discuss the issue of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia and access to medicines with you further at a later date.

Kind regards,


Kris Griffin
Access to CML Drugs