UK newspaper reporting of the NHS Cancer Drugs Fund, 2010 to 2015: a retrospective media analysis

Grant Lewison, Ajay Aggarwal, Philip Roe, Henrik Moller, Charlotte Chamberlain, Richard Sullivan

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

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Objective We wished to explore how UK national newspapers had covered the creation and operation of the Cancer Drugs Fund from 2010 to 2015. This was introduced to provide cancer patients in England with access to drugs not appraised or approved by the National Institute for health and Care Excellence. Design We sought stories in nine newspapers from the Factiva database, and copied their salient details to a spreadsheet. They were categorised by whether they were supportive or critical of the Cancer Drugs Fund and their main arguments, which drugs they mentioned and for which cancers. Settings Not applicable Participants Not applicable Main outcome results Press coverage was mainly very positive, arguing for the Cancer Drugs Fund's extension to Scotland and Wales, and a bigger budget, but neglecting the lack of patient benefit and the severe side effects that sometimes occurred. Leading this support was the Daily Mail, whose influence (measured by the product of number of stories and the paper's circulation) was almost greater than that of the other newspapers combined. Results Press coverage was mainly very positive, arguing for the Cancer Drugs Fund's extension to Scotland and Wales, and a bigger budget, but neglecting the lack of patient benefits and the severe side effects that sometimes occurred. Leading this support was the Daily Mail, whose influence (measured by the product of number of stories and the paper's circulation) was almost greater than that of the other newspapers combined. Conclusions Although there was some critical analysis of the Cancer Drugs Fund, our analysis shows that most press coverage was largely positive and unrepresentative in comparison with the lack of overall benefits to patients and society. It is likely that it contributed to the Cancer Drugs Fund's continuation despite mounting evidence of its ineffectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Early online date13 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Effectiveness of care
  • chemotherapy
  • drugs and medicines
  • medicines regulation
  • oncology

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