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Patients face cancer drug lottery


Patients with rare forms of cancers are subject to a postcode lottery over who gets access to life-saving drugs, research suggests.

There are wide variations across England in the number of patients granted access to medicines, according to the Rarer Cancers Forum.

The charity obtained full details under the Freedom of Information Act from 62 of England’s 152 primary care trusts (PCTs).

It revealed that 100% of applications from patients were rejected in some areas of the country, but in other areas every single one was approved.

A total of 96% of patients living in Mid Essex had their requests approved, while every one in the neighbouring South West Essex PCT area had theirs rejected.

Overall, one in four exceptional requests for cancer treatment were denied.

The charity extrapolated the statistics to give a suggestion of how many patients across England may have been denied treatment. The figure was 1,314.

The report comes after NICE rejected four drugs last week for treating advanced kidney cancer.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “The Department of Health issued good practice guidance to the NHS in December 2006 that makes it clear that funding for treatments should not be withheld solely because NICE guidance is not available, but that decisions should be made on the basis of the available evidence.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

Rarer Cancers Forum

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