Watchdog to free up flow of cancer drugs

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The government has decided to prescribe two drugs to women with cancer regardless of the cost in a move against the "postcode lottery" that operates inside the National Health Service, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

The BBC said it had learnt that the health service watchdog, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, had told health authorities not to restrict the drugs on grounds of cost.

The two drugs are Taxol and Taxotere, which can slow the spread of cancer and extend patients' lives.

Until now, it has been a matter of chance whether patients were prescribed the drugs as some health authorities said they were too expensive.

Taxol, made by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, is mainly used to treat ovarian cancer while Taxotere, from Aventis Pharmaceuticals is used to fight breast cancer.

Campaigners welcomed the news, saying it would help Britain catch up with the rest of the world in treating cancer.