August 13, 2008

Access to Cancer Drugs Varies

A STUDY has found wide variations across England in the number of patients with rare cancers granted access to medicines.

The Rarer Cancers Forum obtained details under the Freedom of Information Act from 62 of England's 152 primary care trusts (PCTs).

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

Primary care trusts for Halton and St Helens, Knowsley, and Warrington received 10 such applications for cancer treatment since October 2006. The study found none had been rejected.

PCTs are not forced to fund treatments which have not yet been appraised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), or which are not being appraised. Doctors and patients must appeal for the drugs, saying the patients represent an "exceptional case".

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