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UK slow over new drugs

The UK is lagging behind the rest of the world in the uptake of new drugs, according to a new study.

Swedish researchers warned bureaucracy was delaying access to treatment, a situation reflected in survival rates. The team, from the respected Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, singled out the UK for criticism.Their Roche-funded analysis of the use of 67 new cancer drugs in 25 countries ranked the UK at the bottom of the league alongside Poland, the Czech Republic, South Africa and New Zealand.'It was the explicit objective at the establishment of NICE to avoid any significant delays to bringing innovations to market in the UK. 'There is yet no evidence that this objective is met,' said study author Dr Nils Wilking, clinical oncologist at the institute.But the study's conclusions were disputed by both the Department of Health and NICE.A department spokesperson said the system had been speeded up and Herceptin was approved within two weeks of licensing.And Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, added: 'The report was flawed, inaccurate and contradicted itself. 'The authors failed to mention our rapid appraisal process that has been up and running for 18 months, enabling us to issue guidance to the NHS more quickly.'The research was published in a special supplement of Annals of Oncology.A separate study in the issue from the same team showed that around one-sixth of the variation in five-year cancer survival between France, Germany Spain, Italy and the UK was due to differences in the uptake of new drugs.

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