Thousands of seriously ill NHS patients reportedly denied drugs


Ian Johnston
Wednesday 22 January 2014 00:36 GMT

Thousands of seriously ill patients are reportedly being denied drugs that have been approved for use by the NHS.

Kidney cancer patients are not getting medicines that could extend their lives and people with motor neurone disease and wet, age-related, macular degeneration (AMD) - the most common cause of blindness - were also affected, the Health and Social Care Information Centre body found, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Experts said the findings were “extremely worrying” and spoke of an “endemic postcode lottery” to get access to vital medicine.

The researchers looked at several drugs that had been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

They found that a third of patients who could have been given treatments like sunitib and pazopanib, both used to extend cancer patients' lives, and riluzole, used for motor neurone disease, did not get them. And more than 12,000 patients did not get injections for AMD.

Andrew Wilson, the Rarer Cancers Foundation's chief executive, said patients were suffering from “an endemic postcode lottery in access to Nice-approved medicines”.

“It is extremely worrying that the NHS does not seem to be making available cancer treatments to all patients who could benefit, even when the drug is approved by Nice,” he said.

Nick Turkentine, chief operating officer of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer, said: “It is really disastrous that patients are still having to battle for a drug which we know can give several extra years of life.”

Duleep Allirajah, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Patients do not choose which cancer they get. Every patient deserves equal access to treatment no matter who they are, where they are from, or which cancer they have.”

A Department of Health spokesman said NHS organisations had been asked to reveal whether they were using drugs approved by Nice or not.

“Patients have a right to drugs and treatments that have been approved by Nice and we expect the NHS to provide them if they are needed,” he said.

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