Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Health Committee 2

Eric Low from Myeloma UK told the Health and Sport Committee Scotland's individual patient treatment requests system (IPTRs), used to access treatments not available on the NHS, was "not fit for purpose" on 4 December 2012.

Mr Low said the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) did a "spectacular job", given it only had 14 people working it, but criticised the IPTRs many patients used unsuccessfully to access cancer drugs.

Alistair Haw from Prostate Cancer UK said the SMC system did not take sufficient interest about what patients felt about a drug, in comparison to NICE south of the border.

As an example, Mr Haw described the "sense of injustice" felt by men dying in Scotland with incurable prostate cancer when the drug Abiraterone was being given to patients elsewhere in the UK.

The SMC has since given doctors the green light to prescribe Abiraterone.

It had previously rejected a submission to allow the drug to be used in Scotland on the grounds that the cost - some £3,000 a month - did not justify the health benefits.

But manufacturer Janssen resubmitted its application and the SMC reversed its initial decision.

Mr Haw said there still remained a post-code lottery in the prescribing of Abiraterone.

Leigh Smith from Melanoma Action and Support Scotland said she had survived a melanoma in 1983 and stressed "the individual patient is not a statistic" and said she wondered if "we need to be very, very strong" and give the more expensive drugs only to patients up until 70 yrs old.

Speaking on behalf of Cancer Research UK , Vicky Crichton said the SMC process had issues around equitability and transparency but said its "massive strength is its speed" and a balance had to be struck.

Kate Seymour from MacMillan Cancer Support Scotland needed a process within the SMC that looks at specific groups, as IPTRs were not suitable for this.

Karen McKee from the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer also attended the round table discussion.

Health and Sport Committee

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