Ministers have announced a £50m interim cancer drugs pot before the creation of the fully-fledged fund promised before the election.
But quality minister for health Earl Howe was not able to guarantee the fund, a Conservative election pledge, would have the £200m budget pledged during the election.
The money for the drugs, which will not need approval by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, will be allocated by regional boards of cancer clinicians from October.
Currently Nice makes its judgements by weighing effectiveness against cost.
At a press conference this morning cancer minister Paul Burstow said the £50m had come from scrapping the personal care at home bill, proposed by Labour before the election.
The £200m fund was due to run until the end of the current Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme in 2014 but will be subject to the results of the spending review later this year.
Lord Howe told the press conference: “£200m was our aspirational figure. I can’t tell you today it will be £200m. We will have to take decisions about priorities, the quantum is to be decided.”
Paul Burstow promised the sum would be “additional funding”.
The Conservatives had pledged to find the money by lifting the threshold for national insurance contributions paid by employers but the VAT rise which will affect much of the NHS’s procurement is predicted to cost a similar amount.
A consultation on the final scheme is scheduled to start in the Autumn.
Lord Howe stressed the continuing role of the institute, saying: “We respect and value the role played by Nice, [it] remains at the heart of our plans for liberating the NHS.”
The ministers, alongside national clinical director for cancer Sir Mike Richards, said the fund would help “thousands” live longer and enjoy a better quality of life.
Sir Mike presented a report on international variations in drug usage and said although early screening was the biggest determinant of cancer survival rates, “the usage of new cancer drugs is relatively low in comparison with international averages and I therefore welcome the additional £50m being made available this year.”