Sex discrimination in cancer treatment investigated

  • 2000-04-13
VILNIUS (BNS) - Lithuania's equal opportunities Ombudsman has launched an investigation into a complaint from a group of patients about the difference in price for drugs used in cancer treatment depending on whether the patient is a male or a female.

The letter of complaint, signed by about 400 patients, maintains this is a case of sexual discrimination in diagnosing and treating cancer of the prostate in men and breast cancer in women.

The National Health Service list of drugs and medicines approved by the health minister this year says that the drug Coserelinum used in breast cancer treatment is free of charge, whereas the patient is charged 20 percent of the price when prescribed the same medicine for the treatment of prostate cancer.

This is seen as an undisputable case of sex discrimination. Ombudsman Ausrine Burneikiene asked the Minister of Health, Raimundas Alekna, to elucidate on this and explain why more favourable conditions had been created for women to purchase the medicine.

According to the letter, 1,236 cases of breast cancer and 823 cases of prostate cancer had been diagnosed in 1999. The average life expectancy in Lithuania is 72 for women and 65 for men.