Leader: ‘Each nation makes its own decisions’

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THE decision to approve skin cancer drug Zelboraf for English patients so soon after it has been refused to those in Scotland seems at first sight deeply unjust.

Why should patients north of the Border settle for second best when those elsewhere in the UK get 
superior, life-prolonging treatment?

It looks like a straightforward case of Scots being the poor relations but the reality of the situation is far from black andwhite.

Firstly, the discrepancy is a natural result of devolution and the separate systems operating in the different countries.

Each nation makes decisions on how it wishes to spend the resources it has available. So in Scotland we have free prescriptions for all and other benefits, we have some drugs that are not approved for use in England and we don’t have Zelboraf and other medicines. In many instances, the reverse is true south of the 
Border.

There is a limited amount of money to go round in each country and every decision to spend on one thing inevitably has a knock-on effect on our ability to pay for another.

Secondly, the system by which 
decisions are made on which new drugs are approved involves a complex series of negotiations.

Haggling over the price at which drug companies will make their products available is a big – and ever-changing – part of that process.

There is every chance that a deal will soon be struck with the makers of Zelboraf which will see it become freely available across Scotland.

Given the experience of Scott McIntyre and the equally positive verdict from the NHS in England, we must hope that is what happens.

Picture perfect

SOMETIMES it takes a while to see the bigger picture when it comes to your career path.

And so it was for David Eustace, the one-time prison officer who grew up on a tough housing estate and didn’t pick-up a camera seriously until his late 20s.

With a bit of help from his tutors at Napier, the rest is history as he has become one of the world’s leading photographers and something of a celebrity himself.

He is living proof that having the bravery to follow your passion can pay dividends, regardless of the life chances which you have had.

Now he wants to give something back by supporting the Power of the Sea photography competition for youngsters, helping to inspire a new generation.

It is a contest the Evening News is also supporting and we’re looking 
forward to seeing the entries. The next David Eustace may just be waiting to be discovered.