NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Drug Rationing Harms Cancer Treatment In U.K.

May 8, 2001

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United Kingdom, and long term survival is poor.

According to a Market & Opinion Research International (MORI) survey commissioned by the Cancer Research Campaign:

  • More than 90 percent of British cancer specialists say rationing of new chemotherapy drugs causes the United Kingdom to fall behind Europe and the U.S. in survival rates for bowel cancer.
  • Just 39 percent of patients in the UK live for more than 5 years after being diagnosed with colon cancer compared with 47 percent in the rest of Europe.
  • In the U.S. the five year survival rate for bowel cancer is 64 percent.
  • Rates for rectal cancer are similar.

Access to drugs such as irinotecan, oxalipatin and raltitrexed is limited in most of areas of the U.K. because of rationing within the health service. Only patients taking part in clinical trials have a chance of treatment with these new agents, according to the respondents to the survey.

Source: Reuters Health, " Drug Rationing Seen as Harming Bowel Cancer Treatment in UK," April 26, 2001.


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