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Cancer specialists 'struggle' to prescribe new drugs

Three-quarters of cancer specialists are “struggling” to overcome NHS bureaucracy barriers to prescribe new “cutting edge” drugs.

In a report to MPs by pharmaceutical company Merck Serono, it is claimed cancer patients are not always being prescribed “with the most appropriate treatment”.

Over half of the 100 cancer specialists surveyed admitted they 'often' or 'sometimes' prescribe a treatment that is not necessarily the best choice for a patient due to a lack of access to biomarker tests.

The publication of the report comes as figures from the Office of National Statistics show the number of new cases of cancer registered in England has risen by 20% in ten years.

Duleep Allirajah, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the figures should “signal alarm bells for the NHS and how we plan future cancer services”.

“The report findings are extremely worrying,” said Dr Tim Iveson, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Southampton General Hospital.

“It is simply not acceptable that some patients are not getting the treatment they deserve.

“We need more collaboration between the NHS, the pharmaceutical industry and the government to ensure better use of stretched NHS resources.”

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Question: Is the bureaucracy around new cancer treatments necessary?