SCOTTISH patients with rare or terminal illnesses will soon no longer face a postcode lottery when it comes to ground-breaking new drugs.

From February 2018, patients will have better access to non-routine medicines which are currently prescribed on an individual and case-by-case basis.

The improvements will involve a new Peer Approved Clinical System (PACS) Tier 2 to enhance consistency in access to expensive or trial drugs across the country.

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Each health board will operate its own PACS Tier 2 system, however there will also be a new National Appeal Panel for individual requests for access not approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

There will also be revised national standards in decision making p for each health board which make clear that cost-effectiveness should not be considered when deciding if patients get access to non-routine drugs.

It follows the Montgomery review of 2016 which called for new rules around which drugs are approved to be "open, transparent and robust".

Previously the SMC had rejected drugs that were approved in England and patients had also faced a postcode lottery applying for some treatments on a case-by-case basis.

Gregor McNie, Senior Public Affairs Manager from Cancer Research UK, said that it was increasingly important to make sure patients could get access to effective drugs as quickly as possible.

He said: "The Montgomery review included reforms which allowed patients in Scotland to be treated with promising new drugs, while more data is collected on their effectiveness.

“There’s been good progress on these reforms, and we’re looking forward to further work being done. We really hope that a combination of evidence from patients, and data from clinical trials can become a fundamental part of the medicines approval system as soon as possible. This will help the SMC to offer the best value to patients and the NHS.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Every patient deserves access to the very highest level of care and treatment possible, including access to new medicines where appropriate. These reforms will go a long way to ensuring they can.

“Dr Montgomery’s review clearly demonstrated the success that has been made to improve access to new medicines, whilst also recognising there was still more we could do. That is why I immediately committed to taking forward its recommendations and I am pleased to see the strong progress that is being made.

“Taken together, these reforms, along with the ongoing work to implement the review in full, will help more patients get better access to the treatments that can give them longer, better quality lives.”