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Editor's blog Wednesday 22 December 2010: DH cancer czar - Cancer Drugs Fund "extremely unlikely" to alter survival difference

Regular readers know our views on the Government's absolutely discriminatory, NICE-undermining National Cancer Drugs Fund: not only is it a crap idea, it is a populist crap idea.

We have done this again and again and again and again and again and again and again.

So bravo for DH cancer czar Professor Mike Richards, who told Jeremy Laurance of The Independent that he pretty much agrees.

Responding to findings by Coleman and colleagues in The Lancet's comparative study of international performance on treating cancer (in which the NHS fares poorly), Richards said of the £200-million-a-year (from next year; £50 mil has to get us up to 31 March) National Cancer Drugs Fund "It is extremely unlikely any issue of access to drugs makes any difference to these survival differences. Drugs have a very modest impact on survival, prolonging it by three months or so.".

Professor Richards may not court popularity with these words. But he is right.

Jeremy Laurance kindly quotes our exclusive report of Richards' words at an ABPI event in November saying "if you wanted to sufficiently change outcomes from cancer I would not spend £200 million on expensive cancer drugs; I would spend it on earlier diagnosis and involving GPs". Unfortunately, The Independent's sub-editors must have excised the reference.