Press Release 3 August, 2012


Renewed calls for breakthrough cancer drug in Scotland


Former Greenock Police Inspector, John Malcolm – who was previously diagnosed with prostate cancer – and local MSP Duncan McNeil have renewed their call for the prostate cancer drug - abiraterone - to be made available on the NHS in Scotland.


It comes on the back of news that Scotland is now the only country in the UK where the life extending and life enhancing drug has not been approved for use on the NHS, following the approval of the drug in Northern Ireland.


Abiraterone can extend the lives of men with incurable prostate cancer and improve their quality of life by significantly reducing pain and other symptoms.


It was given to Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi when he returned to Libya after being freed from Greenock Prison three years ago, and is believed to have been the reason he was able to stay alive for so long after his release.


The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) rejected the drug for routine use on the NHS in Scotland. However, a resubmission was made to the national medicine regulator.


The decision on whether it will be given the green light for use on the NHS in Scotland is due to be published later this month.


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


“The Scottish Medicines Consortium’s (SMC) original decision to reject abiraterone on the NHS in March was a bitter blow to hundreds of men dying of prostate cancer north of the border”.


“Abiraterone can significantly reduce pain and other symptoms as well as extend life by an average of 4 months. Such outcomes are just as invaluable to men in Scotland as they are to men in England, Wales & Northern Ireland. When the SMC announces its revised appraisal of abiraterone in August all eyes will be on it to ensure this anti-Scottish anomaly is ironed out once and for all.”



Duncan McNeil who convenes the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee said:


“I welcome news that Prostate Cancer UK’s campaigning for abiraterone has resulted in England, Wales and now Northern Ireland recommending this drug for use on the NHS. Abiraterone is a breakthrough prostate cancer drug which can both extend the lives of men with incurable prostate cancer and improve their quality of life”.


“It seems outrageous that such a successful treatment, which was developed in the UK, has not been recommended for the NHS in Scotland. The current situation is a great injustice that cannot be allowed to continue, which is why I stand shoulder to shoulder with John Malcolm and Prostate Cancer UK in urging The Scottish Medicines Consortium to overturn its original decision as a matter of great urgency.”