The British government has been accused of 'systematically' delaying the introduction of new cancer drugs on the NHS (National Health Service) in order to save money.
The NHS is a health care service offering care to all residents of the United Kingdom. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by the NHS gets members state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland.
The accusation comes from no less than a leading cancer specialist and the head of Britain's biggest drugs company.
Professor Jonathan Waxman, a cancer specialist with the Imperial College London, said that innovative drugs were being held back as part of an ill-conceived attempt to cut costs.
Describing the situation as a disaster, he said a number of new cancer drugs had been blocked for use on the NHS by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Sir Andrew Witty chief executive at GlaxoSmithKline, told the BBC, 'We're seeing oncology drugs being systematically delayed from introduction and reimbursement.' He said that more expensive medicines were being delayed in a whole series of different diseases across Europe.
'Ultimately it's one of those situations where the drift will be imperceptibly happening, but when you look back in five or 10 years, a huge gap will have opened up,' he said.
The Department of Health has rejected these claims and said the approval process was speeding up, and that it had increased spending on new drugs.