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Published on 3 October 2008

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Drugs guidance “needs clarifying”

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Scotland’s health secretary has called for drugs that are proven to be clinically effective to be made available on the NHS as a matter of course.

Nicola Sturgeon said that revised guidance on patients getting access to drugs that are not available on the NHS would make the system clearer, but added that the best drugs should be available on the NHS.

MSPs were debating a Holyrood Public Petitions Committee report on the availability of cancer treatment drugs on the NHS, following the death of 53-year-old Michael Gray from bowel cancer.

Mr Gray’s family paid for him to receive the drug cetuximab, which is licensed in Scotland but not approved by NHS Grampian.

All NHS boards in Scotland can consider individual cases for making new drugs available to patients in exceptional arrangements where the Scottish Medicines Consortium has not recommended a drug.

Ms Sturgeon said: “It is important to stress that cases of co-payment must be and always will be the exception and not the norm.” She added that where drugs are proven to be clinically effective they should be available on the NHS.

The committee’s report called for more clarity in the way that health boards decide whether cancer patients can receive non-NHS drugs.

Copyright PA Business 2008

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