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Britains Complacent Attitude To Uptake Of New Cancer Drugs Revealed

Swedish scientists have come out with the report that with UK leading the group, cancer patients face "stark inequalities" in access to treatment including the use of new drugs.

The study termed uptake of new cancer drugs as "low and slow" in the UK, as well as in New Zealand, Poland, Czech Republic and South Africa. On the other hand, Austria, France, Switzerland and the US were leaders in using new cancer drugs.

The study, published in cancer journal Annals of Oncology, was documented by Dr Nils Wilking, clinical oncologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and Dr Bengt Jonsson, director of the Centre for Health Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics.

The researchers surveyed Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and the US, as well as 19 European countries, with a total population of 984 million, and looking at access to 67 innovative cancer drugs.

They found differences in access reflected in patient outcome, in five major western European countries - France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

France had the highest five-year survival rate for all cancers apart from non-melanoma skin cancer - 71% for women and 53% for men. The UK had the lowest at 53% and 43% respectively. In France, Spain, Germany and Italy, 51-52% of cancer patients were treated with drugs launched after 1985. But only 40% of patients in the UK had access to these drugs.

Says Dr Jonsson: "Around one sixth of the differences between these five countries in five-year cancer survival are due to differences in the uptake of new drugs in each country." In addition, the report stresses an imbalance in public investments in cancer research between Europe and the US.

"Not only is the magnitude of public research at a different level in the United States, it is also directed to clinical research to a greater extent. There is a need for a significant increase in the public resear
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