Liver cancer patients are lobbying the government to grant them access to the Cancer Drug Fund before its planned introduction in 2011.

The call comes after details of changes to the NHS were revealed on the first day of Parliament, which included plans to provide a Cancer Drug Fund supported by £200 million garnered from National Insurance contributions.

Although the government has pledged to introduce the fund in April next year, Kate Spall, founder of the Pamela Northcott Fund, said patients would be lobbying the government to make the fund available now.

Of most interest to liver cancer patients is Nexavar, which can increase survival by an extra 2.8 months on average.

However, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recently rejected an appeal by the drug’s manufacturer, Bayer, to make it readily available on the NHS.

NICE said the £27,000 per patient price tag “could not be justified by its marginal benefit” after trials showed that half of those who benefited from the drug received less than the claimed survival time.

Commenting on the shake-up of the health service, Ms Spall said: “While the policy pledge is due in April 2011, today we are asking the government to bring this date forward for the 400 liver cancer patients who will benefit from Nexavar.”