Cancer patients in Birmingham are being denied a potentially life-saving drug because of bureaucratic delays, according to MPs.
Health officials are still waiting for the drug to receive the seal of approval, even though it is already available in Scotland and Wales, the House of Commons heard.
Bortezomid, marketed under the brand name Velcade, is used to treat Myeloma, a bone marrow cancer.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), which approves drugs in England, has had to cut the number of appraisals it performs because it is short of cash, Ministers were told.
NICE was created to end the postcode lottery which means different health authorities offer different treatments.
But until it endorses a treatment, the postcode lottery continues, and Birmingham authorities are currently refusing to prescribe the drug.
Doug Naysmith (Lab Bristol North West) told Ministers: "The All Wales Medicines Strategy Group recommended the use of this drug in NHS Wales earlier this month, pending ministerial ratification.
"The treatment has also been made available in Scotland, following approval by the Scottish Medicines Consortium last year.
"Unfortunately, this treatment is not due to be reviewed by NICE until its 12th wave work programme, and therefore is unlikely to be appraised until 2007 at the earliest.
"That will be too late for many people who currently have myeloma and could result in a disparity of access between England and its neighbours.
Birmingham's policy was condemned by CancerBACUP, a charity supporting cancer patients.
Chief Executive Joanne Rule said: "What is happening in Birmingham appears to contradict the assurances we have been given by both NICE and the Department of Health and proves that access to treatment remains a postcode lottery."