Patients living in Scotland are three times less likely to have access to latest cancer drugs on the NHS, say campaigners.
Before new cancer drugs can be freely prescribed on the NHS it is up to government bodies in the UK to decide whether or not they are cost effective.
In England and Wales, this approval is carried out by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), but in Scotland it is down to the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).
Scottish campaigners claim there are 19 cancer drugs available on the NHS in England which are not offered to patients in Scotland. The disparity in access has prompted health charities to call for the SMC to review the way it assesses drugs.
Malignant melanoma drug Zelboraf is just one of the latest drugs that have been approved for use on the NHS in England but not in Scotland, despite cases of malignant melanoma rising 63% in the last decade. Leigh Smith, chair of Melanoma Action and Support Scotland (MASScot), said:
“It’s hugely unfair people in England can access free cancer drugs which people in Scotland cannot. For that I blame the Scottish Government.”
“There needs to be a major rethink of the way the SMC assesses drugs not just by looking at cost but at the benefits they can bring to so many people.”
Health insurance is one way of guaranteeing access to the latest cancer drugs and treatments, even if they have not been approved for use on the NHS.
At the same time, a new report shows that the European Union takes longer to approve new cancer drugs than the FDA does in the US.
The study, published by the US Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD), showed that between 2002 and 2011, approval times for oncology therapeutics were 54% longer in the EU than for similar approvals in the US.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012