Action needed

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AN ALLIANCE of 13 health organisations is right to call for reform of Scotland’s system for approving new drugs (your report, 23 July). Over recent months, two government reports and one Scottish Parliament health committee report have been published on this issue. To varying degrees each echoes our experience, as relayed via oral and written evidence to the authors.

Drug appraisals are made behind closed doors, with patients and their representatives denied a voice. Once made, decisions are applied inconsistently by health boards, contributing to glaring inequities in drug availability throughout Scotland – in addition to the inequities that often exist across the nations of the UK. 

And we know from our research that the appraisal process doesn’t capture many of the things cancer patients value about particular medicines – such as the impact on fatigue, overall emotional wellbeing and a drug’s ability to make a small but meaningful increase to quality of life.

We welcome each report’s call to create an open and transparent system that is applied consistently throughout Scotland. For all too many people, however, this is not an abstract debate that can go on indefinitely – it’s a matter of life and death.

The evidence and consensus for change is there in abundance. The time for commissioning and reflecting on report after report has passed. The time for action is now.

Drew Lindon

Head of policy & campaigns

Prostate Cancer UK