Cancer patients reassured over drugs

CANCER sufferers are today being reassured – you will get the drugs you need.Government health chiefs have mounted a nationwide clampdown to eliminate the so-called postcode lottery on drugs.

CANCER sufferers are today being reassured – you will get the drugs you need.

Government health chiefs have mounted a nationwide clampdown to eliminate the so-called postcode lottery on drugs.

But Suffolk sufferers are being reassured about the availability of medicine.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich, Central Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trusts, said all drugs recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence were available.

She said all NICE-approved cancer drugs are ready for NHS patients who need them.

Mrs Rowsell said: "If clinicians want to use the drug for a patient then it will be funded.

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"The process is that NICE carry out rigorous evaluation and testing.

"When a drug is accredited there is the expectation that if clinicians feel that the drug would be useful for their patients that they can use it."

Earlier this week, Health Secretary John Reid ordered Cancer Tsar Mike Richards to conduct a nationwide review into revelations by charity CancerBACUP that people were not getting recommended life-saving drugs free of charge.

The national problem was highlighted when it was revealed the breast cancer drug Herceptin was only being given to a fraction of women eligible for it.

Figures showed in East Anglia as few as one in three women had access to the NICE-recommended drug, despite regulations designed to guarantee that all such treatments are available on the NHS.

The survey revealed massive discrepancies across the country. In the West Midlands only 14 per cent of women had access to the drug compared to 61pc in the South West.

Similar problems are suspected with 16 new cancer drugs recommended by NICE over recent years.

But a source at the Department of Health said: "We are committed to ending the postcode lottery so that patients who need vital drugs are not denied them on the grounds of funding.

"The differences in take up around the country are simply not acceptable.

"Patients should be given the drugs they need and we will do all we can to resolve the problem."

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