Jo slams Scottish Government’s cancer drug refusal

Jo Swinson MP has strongly criticised the Scottish Government for creating a cancer divide, after being contacted by a constituent unable to receive a specialist drug that would be available in England

The constituent, who has terminal cancer resulting from malignant melanoma, was told by his oncologist that the drug Ipilimumab had been shown to improve the condition of patients with similar conditions. However his request for the drug was rejected by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde as it is not currently recommended by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

This is in stark contrast to what would happen south of the border where the Coalition Government’s establishment of the Cancer Drugs Fund provides payments for patients to receive specialist and expensive drugs. This case exposes the divide in cancer treatment which the Rare Cancers Foundation has called ‘devastating’.

Commenting, Jo said:

“I raised this distressing issue in the House of Commons in an effort to highlight the plight of those who live on the wrong side of the divide. A treatment of Ipilimumab costs around £75,000 and obviously my constituent is very upset that if he lived south of the border, he would potentially be benefiting from this drug.”

“I have written to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon to press the Scottish Government to follow the Coalition Government’s lead in establishing a Cancer Drugs Fund. By choosing not to spend the money in this way, the SNP are denying Scottish people access to life-saving drugs.”

  • The full text of Jo’s intervention in Parliament is below.

Jo Swinson: I thank the hon. Lady for giving way, and I apologise for not being here for the beginning of her speech. I was on the telephone to the consultant of one of my constituents who is terminally ill and who would love to get ipilimumab prescribed. Unfortunately, that is not possible. Sadly for constituents in Scotland, there is no cancer drugs fund there because the Scottish Government have different priorities from those of the coalition Government here. I understand the hon. Lady’s frustration with the way in which the fund is being administered in her area, but would she at least agree that the existence of such a fund is a real benefit to people in England? I wish that that could be the case in Scotland.

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