Holyrood message by Stuart McMillan
LAST week, after months of delay and uncertainty, a drug which can transform the lives of men with incurable prostate cancer was approved for use on the NHS in Scotland.
Up until this point, Scotland was the only part of the UK where abiraterone had not been permitted for use on the NHS.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium - the body which decides which drugs should be approved - had previously rejected a submission to allow the treatment to be used in Scotland on cost grounds.
But manufacturer Janssen re-submitted its application and the SMC has now reversed its initial decision.
The efforts of the thousands of men with the disease and the Prostate Cancer Charity to get this drug introduced must be recognised.
They fought a long and hard campaign.
Yet as with any campaign, just when you think you have won it, another stumbling block can appear.
Anyone who thinks that you can now rush down to the pharmacist to get the drug, or ask your doctor for a prescription, will be disappointed.
The word is out that it could take a further two months before it is available.
There were originally fears that it could take up to six.
However, irrespective of whether it is two months or six months, this is precious time for someone with a terminal illness.
While abiraterone can't extend the lives of men with incurable prostate cancer by much time, it can improve the
quality of the life they have left.
And that's why the health boards must ensure they introduce the drug without further delay.
This article appeared in Greenock Telegraph 20 Aug 12