Cancer Research UK is urging NICE to reconsider proposals to introduce a £20 million impact test on new drugs which include vital end-of-life medication. Presently the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) decides which medicines are good value for money for NHS England.

The new proposals are to have an extra affordability test which could mean that from next month NHS England will be able to delay drugs if the total cost to the health service is more than £20 million a year.

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy and information, said: “If NICE thinks a cancer treatment is clinically effective and represents value for money, then patients should receive it without delay. A system that could add up to a three year delay before patients can access treatments deemed clinically and cost effective is unacceptable.  Cancer patients may lose their lives whilst they wait.

“We need to decide whether we want a world class health system in the UK, and if so we need to pay for it.

“Manufacturers should be encouraged to price drugs responsibly, but we hope the Government will reconsider the introduction of this new test, otherwise it will be patients, their families and carers who could pay the heaviest price.”