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Nicola Sturgeon: The Scottish Government is developing national good practice guidance in relation to NHS boards management of individual patient treatment requests, previously known as "exceptional prescribing requests", for all newly licensed medicines, including orphan medicines, that have not been recommended by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.
The guidance, which aims to support local decision-making on individual patient treatment requests through a consistent approach, will be published in due course.
Dr Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what its assessment is of NHS board decisions on the funding of orphan and ultra-orphan medicines not recommended by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.
Nicola Sturgeon: The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) operates independently from the Scottish Government and NHS boards are expected to follow SMC advice.
Decisions regarding the provision of NHS services are a matter for NHS boards. Where a medicine has not been recommended for use within the NHS in Scotland by the SMC, NHS boards are not expected to make it routinely available.
However, NHS boards have arrangements for clinically-led consideration of SMC "not recommended" medicines, including orphan medicines, for individual patients. Clinicians are responsible for clinical decisions regarding the care of individual patients.
Recent figures provided by NHS boards following freedom of information requests indicate that overall, the majority of individual patient treatment requests are approved.
Dr Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what the difference is between the criteria used by the Scottish Medicines Consortium in making judgements on ultra-orphan as opposed to orphan medicines.
Nicola Sturgeon: The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) operates independently from the Scottish Government. Details about the nature of the SMC processes are available from their website at http://www.scottishmedicines.org.uk.
Dr Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what assessment it has made of equity of access to orphan and ultra-orphan medicines between (a) NHS boards and (b) Scotland and other UK nations.
Nicola Sturgeon: Decisions regarding the introduction of new medicines are taken by each of the UK countries through their own appraisal arrangements in line with established national priorities.
Scotland’s independent, robust and transparent arrangements for the appraisal of all newly licensed medicines focus on patients having equitable access to clinically and cost-effective medicines to treat all conditions throughout all parts of Scotland.
Decisions regarding the provision of NHS services are matters for NHS boards and clinicians are responsible for clinical decisions regarding the care of individual patients.
Equity of access to healthcare more generally is considered by the World Health Organization and other international organisations.