Glasgow MSP Bob Doris has welcomed news that the cancer drug Abiraterone has been approved for use by The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). The drug, which can be successful in extending the lives of men with incurable prostate cancer, will now be available for prostate cancer patients in Scotland for the first time. The manufacturer of Abiraterone, Janssen-Cilag Ltd, was previously unsuccessful in application to the SMC but managed to get approval following a re-submission.
Mr Doris, who is Depute Convenor of the Scottish Parliament's Heath and Sport Committee, said: "I am delighted that the SMC has looked again at this treatment for prostate cancer patients and has had a change of heart. The non-provision of Abiraterone on the NHS in Scotland gained a high media profile as there was overwhelming public support for making it available.
"The Scottish Medicines Consortium was formed 10 years ago to apply impartial expertise to the approval of medicines for use in the NHS. In that time no government has attempted to interfere with its professional opinion. There are numerous considerations in approving new medicines, from medical trial data to medical ethics so these are matters best entrusted to the professionals.
"I do however believe the approval process needs to be look at to ensure there are no unnecessary delays in the system for 'end of life' treatments. If a new medicine becomes available there should be as little delay as possible in bringing that drug to terminally ill patients.
"I have already spoken to the SMC about this and they assure me that the timeline for issuing advice once a submission has been received is 15-18 weeks, which is amongst the quickest service anywhere in the world. I will be raising this matter with the SMC again on 18th August when the Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament is due to take oral evidence on the approval process for newly licensed medicines. Whilst I am confident the SMC provide a terrific service, I know they will listen to constructive ideas for improving their service and that may include expediting the process for approving 'end of life' medications. The Health Committee is the appropriate forum to raise these concerns and I hope MSPs of all parties will attend to offer constructive ideas for improving the service."