The Cancer Drugs Fund

Transition to new model – 1 July 2016


The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) was launched in 2010 as an additional funding source for cancer drugs, and a way for patients to access drugs that would not otherwise have been routinely available from the NHS.

In late 2015, the board of NHS England concluded that the operating model for the CDF needed to change. As a result NHS England, in partnership with NICE, launched a 12-week consultation setting out plans for a new operating model. Almost 300 responses were submitted from a range of individuals and organisations including patients, health professionals, charities and pharmaceutical companies. The consultation closed on 11 February 2016.

The board of NHS England met on 25 February 2016 and agreed proposals for a phased and managed transition from the current CDF to a new operating model.

The main features of the new model, which goes live on 1 July 2016, include:

  • The CDF will become a ‘managed access’ fund. This will include clear entry and exit criteria for drugs entering the fund
  • All new licensed cancer drugs will first be referred to NICE for appraisal. NICE will then make one of three recommendations:
    • that drug should be routinely commissioned – where there is clear evidence of the drugs clinical and cost effectiveness
    • that the drug should not be routinely commissioned- where there is clear evidence that the drug is not clinically and cost effective
    • that the drug should be considered for funding within the new CDF for a time limited period- where the clinical and cost effectiveness of the drug is uncertain
  • A CDF Investment Group will be established to manage and oversee the CDF budget.

For more details, read the NHS England board paper and the NICE board paper.

A period of transition will begin on 1 April 2016, to allow for the operational detail of the new model to be developed. In the transition period 1 April to 30 June 2016:

  • A ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ for the new CDF will be developed
  • The current CDF list of cancer drugs will:
    • Be ‘rolled over,’ and will continue to receive funding, subject to certain conditions. This applies to both licensed drugs and unlicensed (off-label) drugs on the CDF.
    • Be closed to new drugs, although NICE will be able to start appraising a new drug in this time
    • Have the new NICE decision-making methodology applied to it. This does not include unlicensed (off-label drugs) at this time.
  • The process for a clinician applying for a drug via the CDF will remain the same during this period. See below for details on how to do this

About the Cancer Drugs Fund

Administration of the CDF

NHS England oversees the fund, with day to day administration carried out by the four regional teams based in the following areas:

  • North of England: Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear
  • Midlands and East: Leicestershire and Lincolnshire
  • South of England: Wessex
  • London: London

The CDF list

The list includes drugs and associated indications that will be routinely funded by the CDF. Additionally, NHS England will consider Individual CDF Requests (ICDFRs) for cancer medicines to treat individuals with rarer types of cancers including those affecting children.

Standard Operating Procedures for the CDF

The Standard Operating Procedures for the CDF 2015/16 (SOP) set out how the fund will be managed, as well as the process for applications – both for drugs with an identified cohort of patients and for individual CDF requests.

A SOP for the new CDF is being developed.

Applying to the CDF

Applications to the fund must be made on behalf of patients by a recognised and accredited cancer specialist and must be supported by the NHS trust/foundation trust’s clinical cancer lead. Each drug and indication has its own application form and all relevant clinical criteria for use have to be satisfied.

Detailed information on eligibility, the evidence required and the procedure for applications can be found in the current CDF Standard Operating Procedures.

Access the Individual Cancer Drug Fund Request form. Application forms and details of how to submit requests to the CDF are also available:

Background information on the CDF to March 2016

Quarterly figures – including notifications and Individual Cancer Drug Fund Requests (ICDFRs)

CDF Financial Position