Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Cancer Drugs Fund

Peter Clark: public attitudes support a more favourable assessment for cancer treatments

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 11 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5545
  1. Andrew Jack, deputy editor, analysis, Financial Times, London, UK
  1. andrew.jack{at}

Head of the Cancer Drugs Fund, Peter Clark, defends the body’s approach to Andrew Jack and promises outcome data by 2015

He may be an oncologist, but when Peter Clark sat on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s technology appraisal committee for a decade, he was suspicious of special pleading for cancer medicines. “Cancer patients got two special deals,” he recalls: both NICE’s end of life rules and cost effectiveness threshold were more generous than for many other types of drugs. “At the time I thought, ‘Why should cancer patients get a better deal?’”

Yet he now runs the Cancer Drugs Fund, which critics argue undermines NICE by paying for drugs that have been rejected as providing insufficiently good value for money for the NHS—in the process removing resources from patients with other diseases who could benefit more. He expresses some bemusement over the approach but suggests that public attitudes and reactions support a more favourable assessment for treatments for cancer relative to other conditions.

“[The NICE approach] was never challenged,” he says. “That told me it was in the psyche of English people, and …

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