More Scots lung cancer patients benefit from drugs
THE number of Scottish lung cancer patients receiving the world's first once-a-day pill for the disease has quadrupled since new guidance was issued to doctors.
Before its approval by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) in June, many patients were denied Tarceva on the NHS. But since then the average number receiving the drug has increased from an average of 12 a month to 51.
This is expected to increase to 151 by the end of the year.
The figures, welcomed by doctors and campaigners, mean that patients in Scotland are six times more likely to get access to the drug compared with those elsewhere in the UK.
But Scotland still lags behind other countries in Europe in providing the drug.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is not expected to issue its guidance on Tarceva for England and Wales until December.
The SMC published its advice three months ago, widening access to the drug which increases the chances of a lung cancer patient surviving for one year by 43 per cent. The drug was approved for use by patients with an advanced form of the most common type of lung cancer - non-small cell lung cancer.
This means health boards are obliged to fund the drug - which costs 1,700 a month per patient - in patients whose doctors think they will benefit and have failed to respond to other therapies.
About 4,500 are diagnosed with lung cancer every year in Scotland. Rates of the disease are 48 per cent higher in Scots women and 34 per cent high in Scots men compared with the rest of the UK.
Dr Marianne Nicolson, a leading lung cancer specialist from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, said:
"The quick uptake by Scottish cancer specialists is a step forward in tackling Scotland's biggest cancer killer."
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