Free cancer drug applications begin

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Cancer patients in England can now apply for free prescriptions.



Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced last year that patients with long-term conditions will get their medicines free of charge on the NHS.



Charges for cancer patients will be scrapped from April 1 but patients can now apply, with other conditions to follow later.



However, campaigners have been calling for everyone in England to be exempt from the cost after charges were scrapped in Wales and are in the process of being phased out in Scotland.



The announcement means the abolition of charges for everyone undergoing treatment for cancer, the effects of cancer or the effects of cancer treatment. All medicines will be covered by the exemption, including drugs not relating to the actual disease.



Patients will apply for a five-year exemption certificate which can be renewed as many times as necessary and will not have to be returned if their condition changes.



Application forms will be available from GP surgeries and oncology clinics but must be countersigned by the patient's GP, hospital doctor or service doctor.



All applications received by March 24 will be processed in time to be used for April 1.



Up to 150,000 patients already diagnosed with cancer are expected to benefit, and may save £100 each per year in prescription charges, according to the Department of Health.



Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: "This new scheme gives people living with cancer one less worry at such a difficult time. I would urge patients to make an appointment with their GP from this week to talk about applying for their exemption certificate."

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