Access to Medicines


The majority of us thankfully do not need to concern ourselves about access to medicines. Indeed, there is growing concern at the extent of the level of waste in Scotland for prescribed medicines which carry a £1bn plus bill for the NHS.


But for those who are affected by rare disease or some cancers, it is a different story. I know first hand through my casework the anguish that can be caused to the individual and their family from being denied access to medicines recommended by their clinician that are available to save, extend or dramatically improve the quality or that person’s life.


The Health Committee in the Scottish Parliament, which I convene, has interrogated this issue over recent months. Some progress has been made resulting in the Scottish Government announcing a £21m fund for rare diseases and asking Professor Swainson and Professor Routledge to carry out a review of the system.


However, the review set up by the Scottish Government to bring forward suggestions for improvement has done little to address the barriers that currently exist for those patients and their families. It is essential that we have a fairer system that patients and clinicians trust.

I believe that the committee recommendations to take a wider view of the value of new medicines, simplify the process and increase the financial thresholds have the potential to significantly improve access to new medicines in Scotland. I hope the Cabinet Secretary is listening.