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Prostate charity calls for abiraterone to be prescribed on NHS

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A charity is calling for a drug to treat prostate cancer to be given to patients on the NHS.

Prostate Cancer UK said Scotland is “out on a limb” in not recommending abiraterone for NHS use.

The charity said the drug can extend the lives of late-stage cancer sufferers by about four months.

Owen Sharp, the charity’s chief executive, said: “News that abiraterone has been approved for use in the NHS in England, Wales and now Northern Ireland represents a resounding triumph for the thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer who campaigned long and hard for its availability.

“However our delight for men in these countries is matched only by our dismay that Scotland remains out on a limb as the only country in the UK where men with incurable prostate cancer continue to be routinely denied access to abiraterone on the NHS.”

In March, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), which decides which drugs should be offered on the NHS and issues advice to NHS boards about newly licensed medicines, deemed the drug too expensive for use on the NHS.

The company behind the drug resubmitted it to the SMC in May and the body is due to publish its decision in August.

The drug has been linked by a prostate specialist to the prolonged life of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who outlived his three-month prognosis by more than two years.

The charity said 2,700 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Scotland, with 19,000 currently living with the disease.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “As we have previously made clear, we welcome the company’s decision to resubmit to the SMC who are now considering the revised application and will publish their advice in due course.”

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