'Prescription Rules Are Damaging Our Patients'

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

'Prescription Rules Are Damaging Our Patients'


Byline: By Madeleine Brindley Western Mail

Wales and the UK are near the bottom of the European league tables for the usage of the breast cancer drug Herceptin, a leading pharmacist has said.

It is thought that just one in three women with a specific form of breast cancer are routinely prescribed the drug Herceptin, despite mandatory guidelines to extend the drug's use.

And Professor Trevor Jones, the former director general of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said that by his estimates, about 9,000 people in the UK had their eyesight compromised because of a lack of willingness to prescribe Visudyne, used in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration.

'If you are going blind, or have breast cancer, it's not always easy to know that these drugs are available because we have kept patients largely in the dark for a century,' Prof Jones said.

'It is reasonable to say that women are dying in this country in pain because we have decided not to spend our money on drugs like Herceptin.

'Once again, with Visudyne, we are at the bottom of the European league tables for its usage - this is not the third world, this is the developed world.'

Speaking about prescribing policies, Prof Jones said by allowing doctors to prescribe only a narrow range of medicines for certain conditions, it was denying patients access to a wide range of treatments which may be more beneficial.

'On the list of medicines, there appear to be only two or three that are considered good enough to use for any given condition. It's not one size fits all but only two or three sizes fits all, and wherever possible we have to use generic forms. …

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