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Breakthrough Cancer Treatment Approved in Scotland but Still not Available to all on NHS

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 12/12/2005

Breakthrough Cancer Treatment Approved in Scotland but Still not Available to all on NHS

News Release
Monday 12 December 2005, 13:02 GMT Monday 12 December 2005
Link Pharmaceuticals

LONDON, December 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) today announced its positive recommendation for the use of Gliadel Implants, a breakthrough chemotherapy implant, for the treatment of aggressive brain cancer. However, due to delays on guidance from NICE, Gliadel Implants are still not widely available to patients throughout the UK.

The ruling means that patients in Scotland will now be able to receive Gliadel Implants on the NHS, whereas until a NICE appraisal reports in August 2006, patients in England are still subjected to a 'postcode treatment lottery' or have to pay privately - a situation that has led to brain tumour sufferers being denied this life extending treatment, despite it being licensed since April 2001.

The unequivocal recommendation from the SMC is the first published independent healthcare assessment of Gliadel Implants ahead of the NICE appraisal in August 2006 and provides a recommendation for health boards in Scotland to make the treatment available for NHS neurosurgeons and oncologists to use against aggressive (grade III & IV gliomas) brain tumours. It is estimated that this decision by the SMC could give up to 80 people a year diagnosed with brain cancer in Scotland an opportunity to receive this proven treatment.

"I am happy that the SMC have recommended Gliadel - it is an impressive advance for certain patients with aggressive brain tumours, which are extremely difficult to treat and generally offer a poor prognosis. The neuro-oncology community in Scotland is very pleased with the decision," explains Professor Ian Whittle, Professor of Surgical Neurology, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.

Gliadel Implant is an innovative chemotherapy (carmustine) treatment in the form of small 5 pence-sized biodegradable discs that are inserted into the tumour site at the time of surgery delivering immediate chemotherapy and providing an active link between surgery and radiotherapy, waiting times for which can vary widely across the country. International, randomised, multi-centre studies have shown that Gliadel can provide patients with a five fold increase in three year survival and enable sufferers to maintain their independence for longer whilst avoiding the debilitating side effects normally associated with traditional forms of chemotherapy (1).

25 out of the 32 key neurological centres in the UK have used Gliadel Implants and continue to fight for ongoing funding on a case-by-case basis. Gliadel Implant is currently featured on the CancerBACUP 'Dossier of Delay', a list of cancer drugs that are suffering delays in appraisal by NICE meaning patients can be without vital, available and licensed treatments.

Full details of the SMC recommendation for Gliadel Implants can be viewed at


1. Westphal M, Hilt D C, Bortey E et al. A phase 3 trial of local chemotherapy with biodegradable carmustine (BCNU) wafers (Gliadel wafers) in patients with primary malignant glioma. Neuro-Oncol 2003; 5(2): 79-88.

About Link Pharmaceuticals

Link Pharmaceuticals is an independent British company that markets and distributes innovative niche pharmaceuticals to hospital specialists across Europe.

Distributed by PR Newswire on behalf of Link Pharmaceuticals

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