Pharma, patients and charities have welcomed news that England's Cancer Drugs Fund has been extended for another two years with additional government funding.
The Fund, created to provide a mechanism for patients to access medicines considered most appropriate by their clinicians, side-stepping usual cost-effectiveness channels, was set to expire next year, but an additional cash pot of $400 million will now keep it going until March 2016.
The list, which currently holds around 30 cancer medicines, is controlled by NHS England.
The Rarer Cancers Foundation, which has long campaigned for the Fund to be extended, expects that it will benefit more than 33,000 patients in the coming two years.
"This is a compassionate, common sense announcement which will be warmly welcomed by many thousands of cancer patients," said Andrew Wilson, the charity's chief executive, adding: "without the Cancer Drugs Fund, NHS access to cancer drugs would go back a generation. With it, progress can continue".
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has also applauded the move, calling it "good news" for patients, as they will continue to have the chance "to benefit from innovative new cancer medicines that they otherwise would not have been able to receive".
ABPI chief Stephen Whitehead said the availability of the Fund has brought England "closer to levels of access patients in comparable countries routinely experience".
But the group also noted that "the existence of the fund is indicative of the challenge in ensuring that current UK health technology assessment methods and processes are able to work effectively for cancer and other specialist medicines".
News of the CDF's extension comes as talks between the government and industry over a new drug pricing in the system, with the introduction of value-based pricing set for next year, must surely be coming to an end. A DH spokesperson confirmed this morning that talks are still ongoing, and that the current pricing system will come to an end in January 2014 as planned.
Gene sequencing partnership
Alongside the £400 million investment David Cameron also unveiled a new "pioneering partnership" between Genomics England and Cancer Research UK, under the government's commitment to make Britain the first country in the world to sequence 100,000 genomes – or individual DNA codes - within five years.
In order to understand which treatments and drugs will be effective, the whole DNA code of 3,000 cancer patients will be sequenced as well as a further 3,000 whole DNA sequences for their cancer tumours, the DH said.