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Thursday 27th October 2016

Cancer drugs kept quiet

27th August 2008

A poll has revealed that 25% of doctors are not telling cancer patients about costly new treatments that could help them to live longer.


The research was conducted by Myeloma UK. They found that doctors kept information from bone marrow cancer patients because the medication would "be difficult to obtain on the NHS" or had not yet been approved.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is in the process of looking at a number of treatments which could help myeloma. These include the drug Revlimid (lenalidomide), which research has suggested could help patients live for up to three years longer.

One quarter of the 103 myeloma specialists in England, Wales and Scotland who were interviewed by Myeloma UK said that they "avoided" giving patients information about medication which had not yet been approved by NICE.

75% of doctors stated that they had seen applications for the treatment they wanted to prescribe denied by PCTs because of the expense.

Eric Low, chief executive of Myeloma UK, said: "Postcode prescribing is rife in the UK with some patients getting access to life extending treatments ahead of a NICE decision whilst others are left to die."

He added that Myeloma UK wanted to work with the DH in order to find a solution to the problem.

Dr Atul Mehta, haematologist consultant at the Royal Free Hospital, London, said: "These survey findings reveal the dismal state of UK cancer management."

Every year, around 3,800 new cases of the cancer are diagnosed in the UK and there are over 2,400 deaths annually.


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