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Byline: Jane Kirby

English patients saved by pounds 200m docs' fund SCOTS cancer patients are less likely to get the drugs they need than sufferers in England.

A report claims people south of the border have three times the chance of getting treatments recommended by their GP.

The devastating divide is revealed through research by the charity Rarer Cancers Foundation (RCF).

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the RCF gathered data from health trusts in England on drugs approved by the Government's cancer drugs fund.

The fund, worth pounds 200 million a year, was set up for patients in England to access drugs approved by their GPs but which have not been given the go-ahead for widespread NHS use.

The data was then compared with exceptional case approvals for the same drugs in Scotland and Wales.

English patients, the data revealed, are three times more likely to get the drugs than those in Scotland and five times more likely than in Wales.

Andrew Wilson, chief executive of the RCF, said: "The cancers drugs fund is great news for people in England and has benefited thousands.

"However, a devastating divide has opened up with Scotland and Wales.

"A cancer drug does not become less effective because it is prescribed on the other side of a border. Nor does a patient's need become less pressing.

"The NHS should be there when you need it most, wherever you live.

"People in Scotland and Wales will want to know why their chances of accessing a life-extending cancer drug are so much lower than their neighbours in England."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said the report would be carefully considered.

She added: "Scotland has transparent, robust and equitable arrangements for the use of newly-licensed and cost-effective medicines.

"The Scottish Medicines Consortium and Healthcare Improvement Scotland operate independently from the Scottish Government.

"The focus is on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of drugs."

One treatment on the NHS in England is a drug called Gefitinib - more commonly known as Iressa - to treat non-small cell lung cancer.

nown as Ire ll h e s h s But the Scottish Medicines Consortium have not approved it for general use here.


mt OUT OF 3REACH Cancer drugs like Iressa for Scots
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Aug 29, 2011
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