THE widow a Scot who was able to get married thanks to a cancer wonderdrug has condemned the Government’s decision to deny other Scottish patients the treatment.
Scott McIntyre, from Edinburgh, who died aged 39 in August, was given Zelboraf after he was diagnosed with terminal skin cancer in January.
The drug slowed the progression of his cancer, extending his life by six months and allowing him to marry his partner Paula.
But Zelboraf, along with Yervoy, is one of two cancer drugs, that have been denied to Scots patients by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) on cost grounds – despite the potentially life saving medicines being available elsewhere in the UK.
While patients in Scotland have been denied the drugs by the SMC, its English counterpart, the National Institute for Health and Clinic Excellence has this week recommended wider use of both within the NHS in England and Wales.
Paula said today she was devastated by the SMC to deny the drug – on the grounds it does not offer “value for money”.
Paual said the treatment allowed her husband, who created a ‘bucket list’ of things to do before he died, the opportunity to reach many of his goals.
She said: “I’m happy that people in England are going to get it, and it’s been approved because it works.
“The SMC have explained how restricted they are because of the budget they have got, but it still sticks in my throat.
“People in Scotland are making their NHS contributions so why should the people here be losing out? I’ve just been watching our wedding video and thinking of how much the drug turned Scott around. You can’t put a monetary value on things like that. He said to me it didn’t feel like he had cancer anymore.
“I’m hoping the drug company will continue to talk with the SMC and they can work out a price that’s agreeable to everybody. It’s sad that it’s come down to money and where you live. It’s not right.”
Scott, who worked as an IT officer for Dunedin Canmore Housing Association was treated for an aggressive form of metastatic melanoma in 2005 after he had a cancerous mole removed from his jaw line.
He was given the all-clear but sadly the cancer returned in December last year when he noticed a lump in his neck and experienced abdominal pains.
He was told he had just months to live in January.
But following the drugs trial of Zelboraf the cancer masses in Scott’s body were reduced by 20 percent and he was given a new lease of life – allowing him to achieve his dream of marrying Paula, attending the FA cup final, and even go on holiday to Barcelona.
He also recorded moving home videos for his three-year-old step daughter Caitlin and raised £18,000 in a golf marathon which he organised.
In an interview earlier this year, Scott said: “I went from lying in bed to sitting on the sofa.
“The medical people won’t tell you but it’s supposed to give me about six months extra, but everybody’s different.
“We’ve been to Edinburgh Zoo and Deep Sea World, and we’re going to Blair Drummond Safari Park. It’s all about getting memories. We take the camcorder with us and try and get things captured for memories for when I’m no longer here.”
Leigh Smith, chair of Melanoma Action and Support Scotland and a melanoma survivor, said it was “frustrating” that the drugs remained unavailable in Scotland.
Ms Smith said: “Zelboraf is absolutely fantastic if you are the right person for it. It can work quite dramatically, as it did with Scott McIntyre and it has done with other patients. They can go from being seriously ill to being almost as good as new.
“People will ask whether it’s fair to spend money on someone who has only got a short time left, but the majority of these people are young and working. They are taxpayers and should be given whatever’s available. If they get another year then something else might come along.”
Jackson Carlaw MSP, the Conservative health spokesman added: “Scottish patients are being disadvantaged. People whose life and quality of life could be extended by the creation of this fund are losing out and the SNP is refusing to do anything about it.”
An SMC spokesman said that Zelboraf had been turned down in September due to “weaknesses in the economic case”, but that a new application for approval would be welcome.