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Brits Denied Access to Vital Cancer Drugs to Save Money

by VR Sreeraman on July 27, 2010 at 1:45 PM
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 Brits Denied Access to Vital Cancer Drugs to Save Money

A new report is set to reveal that thousands of Britons are being denied access to drugs crucial in cancer treatments.

The UK's breast cancer patients have 50 percent less chance of the drug Herceptin than elsewhere in Europe.


The report, commissioned by the Department of Health will put pressure on the Government to speed up plans for a 200 million pounds cancer fund that would allow patients to get access to new drugs not currently approved for NHS use.

"It is high time we had a review of access to new drugs. However, I doubt that the 200million pound cancer fund would make us as good as the best countries in the report. We would need around £billion to achieve that," The Daily Express quoted leading cancer specialist Karol Sikora from Cancer Partners UK, as saying.

"Patients in the UK have poorer access to Alzheimer's drugs, Multiple Sclerosis drugs and Rheumatoid Arthritis drugs too. It all needs to be looked at," he added.

Allegedly, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence or NICE has blocked a number of medicines, on grounds of cost, that can extend the lives of those battling more unusual forms of cancer.

NICE has restricted access to the bowel cancer drug Avastin, and Nexavar, the only treatment offering any chance of survival for patients with advanced liver cancer.

NICE agrees the drugs can alleviate symptoms but says the NHS cannot afford them.

The outcry against negative decisions has led to a review by NICE into a controversial decision to block one new bone marrow drug called Azacitidine.

One of the groups suffering most are 400 liver cancer patients denied Nexavar to shrink their tumours and give them the chance of potentially life-saving surgery.

Ian Beaumont, of Bowel Cancer UK, said that for some patients even a few months delay "means the difference between life and death."

Source: ANI

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