Health Minister: figures disprove Tory claims that 24 cancer drugs are unavailable in Wales

According to new figures published by the Welsh Government, patients in Wales suffering from a range of rare types of cancer have benefited from access to new medicines for their condition. That directly contradicts claims by the Welsh Conservatives, whose health spokesman recently stated this:

There remain 24 life prolonging cancer drugs routinely available in England that are not easily accessible to patients in Wales. That is unjustifiable. If the Welsh NHS can afford to pay for free prescriptions for drugs like paracetamol and athlete's foot powder for millionaires, then it ought to fund modern cancer busting treatments for those who need them.

– Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM

But Health Minister Lesley Griffiths today has said that 16 of the treatments HAD been prescribed in the previous year for more than 200 people and while there had been no requests for the remaining 8 medicines, they were still available to patients. She said:

It has been alleged that 24 cancer treatments cited in a report by the Rarer Cancer Foundation are not available in Wales. The figures I'm publishing today show this categorically to be not the case. In fact 232 patients received these treatments in the last year.To claim , therefore, these drugs aren't available for patients in Wales is completely untrue. In Wales, all these drugs are available to patients under our Individual Funding Request route which assesses whether patients would benefit from the treatment based on the clinical evidence and demonstration of exceptionality.

– Health Minister ,Lesley Griffiths AM

The Health Minister went on to attack the Conservative claims for 'creating false hope.' She said:

The fact of the matter is that the Cancer Drugs Fund is purely a short term measure based on political expediency which creates false hope, as illustrated by the underspend of 150 million pounds out of a total of 200 million pounds in the previous year.

It is also untrue that patients in Wales are five times less likely to get access to newer cancer medicines, as has been alleged. There is no single cancer medicine with a ban on it being prescribed and all medicines with a marketing authorisation are available in Wales.

– Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths AM