‘Hundreds die from red tape over new medicine’

Jackson Carlaw: something has to be done to ensure a more uniform outcome

Jackson Carlaw: something has to be done to ensure a more uniform outcome

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Hundreds of NHS patients in Scotland may have died because they were denied access to new drugs, MSPs were told yesterday.

Patients are facing a “deeply flawed system” for accessing potentially lifesaving drugs, mired in bureaucracy, one MSP said.

The UK is now 11th in Europe for access to new medicines, but many “revolutionary” drugs are now available in England that are often denied to Scots.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) advises on which drugs should be prescribed on the NHS, but Labour MSP Richard Simpson, a former GP, told Holyrood’s health committee yesterday there were “multiple layers of bureaucracy” before patients receive the medicines.

“The consistency we have across Scotland is: ‘If you have your heart attack in the west, you’ll get your drug, if you’re in the east, you won’t,’” he said.

Dr Simpson said the drug Brilique, used to treat stroke and heart attacks, was given general approval by the SMC in April last year but still not available to patients across Scotland.

“The evidence given to the SMC was that this would save 200 lives each year.

“So one reaches the inevitable conclusion that the delays of a year or even 15 months in the approval of this drug, because of the bureaucratic process, has actually cost 200 Scots their lives,” he said.

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