Patients in Scotland risk falling further behind those in England in terms of access to "innovative" cancer treatments, a drugs company has claimed.
Pharmaceutical firm Roche UK called for action from the Scottish Government to tackle this, saying such medicines "clearly benefit patients".
General manager John Melville hit out after the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) ruled it would not recommend the use of the drug Avastin for woman with advanced ovarian cancer.
His comments came as Conservative leader Ruth Davidson highlighted the lack of a cancer drugs fund in Scotland as she claimed patients north of the border were dying as a result of the SNP Government's policy on free prescriptions.
Mr Melville said the "majority" of suitable patients in England received Avastin through the Cancer Drugs Fund there. Approximately 330 women in Scotland could benefit from the drug every year, Roche UK said. It claims Avastin is the first new drug to improve outcomes for women with advanced ovarian cancer for 15 years and can halt the progression of the disease for up to six months compared to chemotherapy alone.
Mr Melville said: "Avastin offers an advance in the treatment of ovarian cancer. The majority of eligible patients in England already have access to it, at the clinically preferred dose, through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
"In Scotland, almost no patients have access. The Scottish Government must act to prevent Scotland falling further behind England in access to innovative cancer drugs that address an unmet medical need and clearly benefit patients, or face a negative impact on clinical research as well as increasing difficulties in recruiting and retaining the best clinicians."
The SMC said that in submitting a case for Avastin, the company's economic was "based on an unlicensed dose of the medicine and this is not within the SMC remit". It added that the "justification of the treatment's cost in relation to its health benefits was not sufficient and in addition the company did not present a sufficiently robust economic analysis to gain acceptance".
Dr Nicholas Reed, consultant in clinical oncology at the Beatson Oncology Centre, Glasgow, said it was "extremely disappointing" Avastin had not been approved. He stated: "The negative decision from the SMC and the lack of a cancer drugs fund in Scotland deprives our patients of a clinically active and effective drug."
Annwen Jones, chief executive of the charity Target Ovarian Cancer, said Avastin was the "first new treatment for ovarian cancer in 20 years and can prolong the survival of ovarian cancer patients in those who have the highest risk of the disease recurring, so we are extremely disappointed that women in Scotland continue to be unable to access it".