Smokers denied cancer drugs

| February 18, 2016

Turkey’s social security body will not fund cancer treatment drugs for people diagnosed with lung cancer if they are smokers or ex-smokers, according to a Hurriyet Daily News story citing a regulation that went into effect on February 3.

The Social Security Institution’s (SGK) new regulation requires smokers and ex-smokers with lung cancer to pay for their own drugs.

The regulation has drawn condemnation from legal bodies, health organizations and advocacy groups.

Ankara Bar Association head Hakan Canduran said that the association would launch a court challenge to the regulation, which he said violated constitutionally and internationally protected health rights.

“The term ‘everyone’ is used in Article 56 of our constitution,” Canduran said. “This assures everyone the right to health. This term should be regarded by law in terms of non-discrimination and equality.”

The Turkish Medical Association said it could take the issue to the Constitutional Court through an individual appeal.

And Devrim Güngör, an associate law professor at Ankara University, also criticized the change. “One-sided and arbitrary changes in the provisions of general health insurance are unlawful,” Güngör said. “A person cannot just be left to die based on their mistakes or personal preferences. Many diseases are caused by unhealthy lifestyles. For example, this regulation could lead to hospitals asking for patients to meet weight criteria in order to fund medicines for cardiovascular disease patients.”

Meanwhile, the Turkish Employer Pharmacists Union (TEİS) head, Nurten Saydan, described the new regulation as “unacceptable.”

“This regulation, which threatens the health of patients, should be amended urgently by the SGK and the Health Ministry,” Saydan said.

Category: Breaking News

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