should we pay ?

I have recently started taking tamixofen and was surprised that I had to pay for this my perscription. Although I work full time and am not entitled to free perscriptions at times money like most households is tight. If I lived in Wales or Scotland my life saving medication would be free it seem so unfair. Many women I have spoken to are apaulled that I have to pay for my meds. What seems even more unfair is when speaking to my BC nurse she said it is up to my GP how many tablets he perscribes there is no standard prescription for the amount. Has any cancer group ever challanged this. I feel strongly that Cancer medication should be along side diabetic and thyroid meds which are free. Does any one have any thoughts or any ideas on how we can lobby government to get this changed ?




I had no idea that younger women had to pay for their prescriptions for tamoxifen or arimidex. I like you am appalled.

I suppose the Government could turn round and say that you are only on it for 5 years unlike those people on thyroid tablets etc. If you want to lobby your MP that might be the way to go.


I quote from the main web page of this site and would like to know what happened to this campaign.

"A 2006 Breast Cancer Care survey of breast cancer patients revealed that;

* 42% of respondents have experienced financial difficulties as a result of paying prescription charges
* 15% of respondents have decided not to get their prescription dispensed because of the cost.

The prescription for change campaign is calling for cancer patients to be exempt from prescription charges.

Between August 2005 and January 2006 Breast Cancer Care collected information from breast cancer patients across England and Scotland, to find out about their experiences of prescription charges."

Personally this doesnt affect me because I am a pensioner and don’t pay for prescriptions. But at a time when many of those coping with BC are often on reduced income it is one expense they really don’t need. It would be good to hear that some of BCC’s campaigning had some teeth.


I totaly agree it is outragous that we have to pay for tomoxifin , i too have to pay for mine as not recieving any benifits and hubby and i work, we are only just above the limit for any benifits mabe we could lobby the mp or start up a petition or something ,Tomoxifin is something most of us has to have to save our lives i think all cancer medication should be free on perscription we have enough to cope with without extra financial burdens. We pay enough national insurance contributions over the yrs so why should cancer patients be treated differevtly than other conditions. It makes me very angry.
Lindiloo x

I disagree totally. For £6.85, compared to what these drugs actually cost, I think we should go for the PPC and count our blessings. I don’t have much money either. But consider it well spent.



A PPC only benifits if you need to have other percriptions also . The cost of a PPC is currently 98.70 for 12 mths . To have 12mths of Tomoxifin amounts to 82.20 so would end up paying more. I havent had any percriptions for 20 yrs before BC and hopefully will not need any more than Tomoxifin. I have never been one for takeing medications or going to the GP and would only do so if it was something serious, but thats just me. A PPC might be helpfull for people who may have to have more than 1 perscription a month though.
Best Wishes
Lindiloo x

I have just started taking tamoxifen and as I was lucky enough to have health insurance my first prescription was from my private consultant rather than NHS. I went along to the chemist with some trepidation as to how much 30 tamoxifen tablets were going to cost and guess what - the cost was £5 and therefore lower than NHS charges. So not only do we have to pay for these drugs but the NHS makes a profit out of us!

best regards


You may well find that Tamoxifen is actually cheaper on a private prescription as I think that a box is a lot less than £6. 95.
Arimidex on the other hand costs a lot more so is cheaper on NHS prescriptions. My GP looked up the relevant costs for me, a pharmacist could give you the same information.
2 years ago Tamoxifen cost from £2 a packet depending on make and Arimidex cost £68 a packet…

This is a broader issue than just the issue of tamoxifen and arimidex. I think all prescrptions on the NHS should be free as they are in Wales and as they were once inn England (memory fails…was it during Harold Wilson’s time?)

Then in any case there is the issue that some long term prescriptions for some illnesses are free…e.g for diabetics…so there is inconsistency. Several of the cancer charities have been campaigning for long term cancer prescrption drugs being free. I understand there is a govt. committee currently loking at the whole area…the result may be that people with diabetics will have to pay for their drugs too…so fair but the wong kind of fairness.

BCC…have you any news on how this particular campaign is going?


Hi Dawn

Just to let you know, I have forwarded your question to the relevant department and will post when they reply.

Kind Regards

Hi all
I just felt i had to chip in there is always help for the poorer people but middle of road people always loose out always have done and always will. i was a childminder so in fact self employed. my fault i didn’t pay a stamp but on my little wage it wasn’t worth it. the two children i had from two months started school at Xmas so i was just going to do b4 and after school for an hour a day. a little bit of pocket money. we aren’t poor we aren’t rich but had decided if careful we would b OK with me working a little. well in Sept i was dx with BC lumpectomy mastectomy and reconstruction still ongoing i haven’t started treatment or tablets yet… there is no help for us normal people if that’s the right word. we have plodded on paid mortgage never claimed in life on anything very rarely ill etc. now over last four months i have so many visits to hospital i cant remember for three weeks it was three times a week it is an hour each way for us petrol gone up car park 2.50 at least. it has really hit us hard . the drugs etc i am going to need also by the sound of it. again with radiotherapy its an hour and half drive each way and that’s daily for four weeks. who can take me… my daughter is having a month off unpaid to do it and we are getting a loan to pay her mortgage… i am moaning but also really grateful i am being treated. my point is its not just prescriptions when we are going through this… sorry to go on a bit. have a good day all.

I agree that the system is seriously flawed. I have a thyroid condition, and so as other posts have said, I get my prescriptions free. But the system means that I have been given a blanket exemption for five years - I do not have to pay for any prescriptions no matter what they are for, and if my thyroid condition got better I would still get free prescriptions for the rest of the five years. This will see me through four years of my tamoxifen. This makes no sense whatsoever, but as I feel I have missed out on so many other handouts from the government, I am happy to get whatever I can from them.

Hi all,

If your doctor is only perscribing 30 tablets at a time try and persuade them to give you 3 months supply like I did as the perscription charge is the same regardless of how many tablets you get. This was another gripe of mine in that its up to us to plead and beg with our GP, and like everyone said as if we have not been through enough. Standing in an open plan surgery pleading poverty to the receptionist just to get a couple of extra months on your scrip is quite demoralizing !!! A years supply would cost me the same as a months. What makes it even more frustrating for me is that my sister lives just over the boarder in Wales so as stated before gets all her perscriptions paid for and she’s not even Welsh !!!

As Jal states the financial burden already on us is emense and not something you can plan. I am currently in the middle of my rads and have to travel 30 miles a day for 4 weeks, prior to this I had many hospital appointments costing me an arm and a leg in car parking fees. It would be good to hear more from BCC to see if there has been any movement on this one or if we can put any pressure people.

Thanks for all your replys this was my first time at opening up a debate and got quite excited when I logged on thismorning. Any way off to get some starflower now as I have heard that it helps with all the side effects of Tamoxifen hopefully it will aid in my SLEEPING.




I have a PPC, it’s is worth it for 14 or more prescriptions a year. My GP actually gives me 2 months worth of Arimidex at a time, so talk to them, they can do this easily. GPs give prescriptions for HRT for 3 and sometimes 6 months worth. In general we pay less that the cost of the drugs and I’m sure most of us with BC have more than one drug we’re taking even if e.g. it’s a Calcium supplement to prevent osteoporosis whilst on Arimidex.

I work and because of that don’t object to paying but I feel for those on low incomes and I think that as a general issue people with long term illnesses/conditions should not have to pay for their drugs but where do you draw the line? Overweight people are prone to diabetes so if you carry on piling on the pounds and then develop diabetes should you get your drugs free? If your cancer is directly linked to smoking then what? Emotive topic …

Meantime, PPCs are the way to go …

Prescription Charges Comment for Discussion Forum:
21st Jan

The policy and campaigns team at Breast Cancer Care have been campaigning to ensure that all cancer patients do not have to pay for all prescriptions relating to their treatment.

We are now focussing our efforts on campaigning in England as prescription charges in Wales were abolished in 2007. In Scotland, it was announced in December that prescription charges will reduce gradually towards total abolition in 2011. (See

The campaign In 2006, we conducted a UK-wide survey on prescription charges. As mentioned on the website (and Dawnhc) 42% of respondents experienced financial difficulties as a result of paying prescription charges. The responses to our survey were used to inform policy-makers of the difficulties many patients face because of the prescription charges policy. The list of ‘long-term conditions’ which allows for certain exemptions (i.e. diabetes and epilepsy) has not been reviewed since 1968 – and we really want to see the long term condition exemption list changed to include cancer.

Since the launch of our ‘Prescription for Change’ campaign, we have held an event in Parliament, tabled a Motion in Parliament and have submitted a response to a Health Select Committee inquiry on ‘NHS Charges.’ In addition, we have also worked in coalition with other organisations (such as Arthritis Care, Asthma UK, Citizens Advice, Macmillan Cancer Support, Mind, MS Society and the Parkinson’s Disease Society) to campaign for change as they also want to see the long-term condition list changed.

Further to the Health Select Committee report (which highlighted to the Government the anomalies within the prescription charge policy) we have worked together to lobby the Department of Health to review its policy on NHS Charges and to broaden the review to allow for public consultation. The Department of Health said they would announce this review in the Autumn of 2007 but currently we are still waiting for the consultation to be launched. We will continue to put pressure for this review to happen.

In preparation for this consultation, we have a ‘refresher’ survey online to update our knowledge around the impact of prescription charges on people with breast cancer. If you would like to complete the questionnaire, you can still do so at

In fact, if anyone is interested on receiving updates on this (and other campaigns) or have any questions that you would like to ask us, please email us at <script type=“text/javascript”>eval(unescape(‘%64%6f%63%75%6d%65%6e%74%2e%77%72%69%74%65%28%27%3c%61%20%68%72%65%66%3d%22%6d%61%69%6c%74%6f%3a%63%61%6d%70%61%69%67%6e%73%40%62%72%65%61%73%74%63%61%6e%63%65%72%63%61%72%65%2e%6f%72%67%2e%75%6b%22%3e%63%61%6d%70%61%69%67%6e%73%40%62%72%65%61%73%74%63%61%6e%63%65%72%63%61%72%65%2e%6f%72%67%2e%75%6b%3c%2f%61%3e%27%29%3b’))</script>.

The Pre-Payment Certificate:
For the time being, a pre-payment certificate (PPC) might help people who have to pay for more than five prescription items in four months or 14 items in 12 months.
The PPC costs £35.85 for 4 months and £98.70 for 12 months in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Please note that the PPC in Scotland will reduce in April 2008 as part of the phasing out process of prescription charges. For more information, please see

Apologies for the long entry – there is lots going on – but hopefully we can try to make a difference!..

Laura Brandon
Policy and Campaigns Team

Hi All,
Just tried to fill in the survey. Firstly, I was asked for my name, address and postcode. My use of this site in every other way is completely confidential/unidentifiable, so I felt a bit uncomfortable. The next question was whether I was willing to have my answers quoted to help the campaign. As I am unaware of what questions I will be asked until I go on to the next page, I am not willing to give my consent yet. Of course I can’t proceed to the next page to have a look unless I give the above info. Catch 22.
I have decided not to complete it, which is a shame, as i feel it is an important issue.
Why do you need our addresses? Why can’t the ‘consent to be quoted’ question be at the end of the survey?

hi all, felt i had to chip in to, i know that i could have other medication to help alleviate the side effects of arimidex but i can’t afford to try them, yet if i was overweight through bad diet and developed type 2 diabetes then i would get free prescriptions, very unfair i think


What you said is so true. My overweight sister in law has been diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. She has takeaways most nights, has made no effort to improve her diet and gets free perscriptions !

I have always tried to look after myself ie eat healthily/exercise but have just been diagnosed with BC and will have to pay for tamoxifan !!

Life is not fair - as we all know !!

Lisa x

Hi all Its not true about us getting our prescriptions free in Scotland I have to pay every month for my Arimadex and so has everyone else here in Scotland. I also have to pay for all my prescriptions so someone has got there facts wrong. Linda

Like linbob says, prescriptions are NOT FREE in Scotland, where people get this idea I don’t know. However, they will be within 3 years as I have had a reminder about my pre-payment being due to expire and inside was a leaflet containing the following:
Proposals by the Scottish Government were announced by Nicola Sturgeon, Health Secretary on 5th December 2007 and are as follows;
On April 1st 2008 prescription charges will be reduced to £5, with further phased reduction towards a total abolition of the charges in 2011.

Current prices, 4 months £35.85,…12 months £98.70,…single item, £6.85
1st April 2008,…£17…£48…£5
1st April 2009…£13…£38…£4
1st April 2010…£10…£28…£3
1st April 2011…0…0…0