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The BBC's Branwen Jeffreys
"Improving cancer treatment is one of the governments stated priorities"
 real 56k

Professor Gordon McVie, Cancer Research Campaign
"I am talking to patients... and I am saying... you go to your doctors and you make a noise"
 real 56k

Sunday, 24 June, 2001, 03:14 GMT 04:14 UK
Red tape delays 'kill cancer patients'
pills
Some new drugs take years to reach patients
Bureaucratic health systems in many EU countries are stopping cancer patients getting the latest drugs, claim campaigners.

Many countries have national reimbursement systems which are slow to recognise and include the most up-to-date treatments.

Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, is to bring up the issue at the Global Conference for Cancer Organisations in Brighton.

He said: "These delays inevitably mean that access to new breakthrough treatment for cancer arrives too late for some patients.


Denying patients access to new cancer treatments as a consequence of bureaucracy and complacency is completely unacceptable

Prof Gordon McVie Cancer Research Campaign
"National assessments and reimbursement negotiations for new cancer treatments can take years, whereas the life expectancy of some of those cancer patients who could benefit from them can be matter of months."

Therapies or drugs approved as safe and effective by the EU regulatory authorities may still have to go through separate pricing before doctors can prescribe them.

In the case of one well-known cancer treatment, Taxotere, the time between its EU approval as a breast cancer treatment, and its full approval in the UK was four-and-a-half years.

On average, in some countries, patients are waiting four years longer to get new drugs, with Belgians, the French, Greeks and Portuguese waiting the longest.

In Sweden the average wait to full approval is less than three months.

Professor McVie said: "We have a situation in Europe where cancer patients are being discriminated against based on where they live.

"Denying patients access to new cancer treatments as a consequence of bureaucracy and complacency is completely unacceptable.

"How can national governments taking years to approve much-needed new treatments for prescription justify the delay when other countries in the EU can complete the process in a matter of months?"

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See also:

11 Apr 00 | Health
Drug hope for cancer patients
24 Oct 99 | Health
Milburn: End cancer 'lottery'
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