Skip to main content

NHS: Drugs

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether his Department has issued guidance to primary care trusts on the funding of drugs commonly used towards a patient’s end of life via exceptional case procedures; (257210)

(2) what his Department's policy is on the provision of drugs commonly used towards the end of life for patients with rarer cancers; (257211)

(3) what his Department’s policy is on the disparities which exist between different health care trust areas in the provision of those drugs commonly used by NHS patients approaching the end of their lives; and if he will make a statement.

On 21 January 2009, the Department issued draft Directions to primary care trusts (PCTs) on decisions about drugs and other treatments along with a guiding principles document aimed at helping PCTs improve the consistency and quality of local decision making on drug funding in England. Copies of the draft Directions and the guiding principles have been placed in the Library. The National Prescribing Centre will shortly be publishing a handbook of good practice offering practical advice to help PCTs in making drug funding decisions.

On 2 January 2009, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued supplementary advice to its Appraisal Committees, to provide more flexibility in the evaluation of higher-cost drugs, which have been shown to extend the lives of terminally ill patients with less common conditions. This advice is available on NICE’s website at:

“The NHS Constitution”, which was published on 21 January 2009, includes a right for patients to access drugs and treatments that have been recommended by NICE for use in the NHS if they are clinically appropriate. A copy has already been placed in the Library. It also sets out the right of patients to expect local decisions on the funding of other drugs and treatments to be made rationally following a proper consideration of the evidence.