Chemotherapy drugs
Twenty-five cancer treatments will no longer be funded by the NHS in England Getty

Charities have expressed their outrage at the NHS decision to stop funding 25 cancer treatments, including life-extending drugs, in a bid to cut costs.

The changes to help address the spiralling cost of the government's Cancer Drug Fund (CDF) will result in almost 8,000 cancer sufferers having their lives cut short as the flagship scheme looks to reduce spending by £80m.

Among the 25 treatments, there are 16 drugs which have been described as "insufficient value for money" which are currently being prescribed for thousands of breast, prostate and bowel cancer patients.

Charities have said the decision to remove funding for these drugs and treatments in NHS England is denying people "the chance of improved quality of life and extra time with their loved-ones".

Launched in 2010, the CDF pays for drugs which have been rejected on grounds of not being cost-efficient enough by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on the basis doctors should be able to prescribe any drug to cancer sufferers.

Although the budget was increased from £200m to £280m, the CDF was estimated to overspend by a further £100 by the end the financial year.

The fund is to again to increase to £340m, and is expected to save £80m by removing life extending drugs such as Jevtana, used for prostate cancer, and Avastin for bowel cancer.

Professor Peter Clark, chair of CDF, said: "We have been through a robust, evidence-based process to ensure the drugs available offer the best clinical benefit, getting the most for patients from every pound.

"There were drugs that did not offer sufficient clinical benefit so we simply cannot go on funding those. There were others that offered some benefit but were costly and I am pleased that a number of pharmaceutical firms worked with us to make prices more affordable, saving millions of pounds that can now be reinvested in other treatments."

Cancer charities have now accused the government of putting thousands of people at risk because of the cuts to funding. According to The Rarer Cancers Foundation, the total number of cancer patients affected by the changes is 7705, including 1765 breast cancer sufferers and more than 3200 colorectal cancer patients.

Mark Flanagan, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, said: "This is bad news for bowel cancer patients. It's likely that 65% of patients with advanced bowel cancer face the probability of an earlier death by being refused innovative treatments that were available before.

"These changes are a backward step in treatment for advanced bowel cancer. Doctors will be forced to tell their patients there are treatments that can prolong their lives but they will no longer be available."

Samia al Qadhi, chief executive of Bears Cancer Care, added: "Thousands of breast cancer patients have today been denied the chance of improved quality of life and extra time with their loved-ones. This news is devastating for them.

"However, we want breast cancer patients currently receiving these drugs to know they will still have access.

"The Cancer Drugs Fund is falling apart when there is still no long-term solution in place. While it is good that another three breast cancer drugs remain on the list and budget for the Cancer Drugs Fund will grow, the priority now must be to urgently find a sustainable system that works. Without this, cancer patients will continue to be denied access to vital treatment - they deserve better than this."

A Department of Health spokesperson said the fund had already helped more than 60,000 people to access drugs.

A spokesperson added: "Advances in medical science mean that new medicines are emerging all the time and we want people to have access to the very latest drugs. That is why experts have made decisions to stop routinely funding drugs with limited clinical benefit, so we can make way for new and better drugs that offer more to patients.

"The Government has protected the NHS as part of the long term economic plan - this allows important initiatives like the Cancer Drugs Fund to exist."