Did It Matter That the Cancer Drugs Fund Was Not NICE? A Retrospective Review

Padraig Dixon*, Charlotte Chamberlain, William Hollingworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
319 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) will have spent more than £1 billion between October 2010 and the introduction of reforms to its structure and operations in July 2016. There has been much more debate about the existence of the fund than about how it spent its substantial budget. It is important to undertake a retrospective examination of "where the money went" in light of the substantial reforms that will be introduced in 2016. Objectives: We review the means by which the CDF made recent funding decisions for cancer drugs to provide an assessment of the merits of the CDF "model" as a basis for allocation decisions. We assess the extent to which proposed reforms could overcome defects in the original CDF model of prioritization, and lessons for other countries. Methods: We provide a narrative commentary on CDF's methods and processes since 2014. We evaluate methods against best practice in cost-effectiveness analysis, and processes against the "accountability for reasonableness" framework. We comment on reforms to the fund. Results: There are no grounds for concluding that the opportunity costs imposed on cancer patients were well evidenced, or the product of legitimate deliberative processes. We note that some of these issues will be addressed in the next incarnation of the fund, but the rationale for the fund's existence remains unconvincing. Conclusions: It is important and timely to debate how cancer drugs appraisal ought to be conducted to confront the consequences of CDF's model of appraisal. We conclude that it did matter that the CDF was not NICE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)879-884
Number of pages6
JournalValue in Health
Issue number6
Early online date11 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • Cancer Drugs Fund
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Priority setting


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