A DRUG which extends the lives of patients who are dying from skin cancer has been approved for use on the NHS in England – but rejected in Scotland.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has backed the use of Zelboraf in appropriate melanona patients, two months after it was turned down by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

Charities, cancer clinicians and drugs companies have all raised concern that patients north of the Border are increasingly unable to access new treatments which are prescribed in England and Wales.

Loading article content

John Melville, managing director of pharmaceutical company Roche UK, said: "While this is a landmark for metastatic melanoma patients in England and Wales, this reinforces the urgency for the SMC to review the criteria it uses to assess cancer medicines to help prevent Scotland falling further behind."

A spokesman for SMC said: "We were disappointed not to be able to recommend this medicine ."