Are the Scots getting a better deal on prescribed drugs than the English?

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 26 October 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:875
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. London

    Geoff Watts explains why Scotland's drug rationing body seems able to make more drugs available to its citizens than its English equivalent

    Anger in England at the apparent austerity of its drug rationing body in comparison with its Scottish counterpart came to a head last week, when the English authority announced that it was not going to recommend the use of bortezomib (Velcade). The drug has already been approved for limited use in multiple myeloma north of the border.

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    The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which advises on the use of treatments by the NHS in England, was obliged to bring forward its draft guidance on the use of bortezomib after a leak to the press of its latest appraisal. It confirmed that it would not recommend the drug in monotherapy for relapsed multiple myeloma.

    Leading the charge on this occasion was the Daily Mail. Under the headline “Medical apartheid as English cancer patients are denied life-extending drug” (, 20 Oct) it explained that the “new wonder drug” was to be withheld from NHS patients in England while still being …

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