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Published on 15 June 2009

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Patients “blinkered” over drugs


Self interest is blinding patients to the reality of whether the NHS can afford hugely expensive drug treatments, according to the chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Professor David Barnett said: “The patients’ views of this are understandable because it is their personal problem. But it’s blinkered.”

He points out that an effective health-care system must operate within a budget, in the same way that patients themselves must live within their own personal budgets.

His remarks are made in The Price of Life, a documentary about the organisation that will be broadcast on BBC2 next Wednesday.

It follows a group of patients waiting to hear if NICE will approve a cancer drug costing £36,000 a year. It is only approved after its manufacturer agrees to fund all costs for the first two years.

Professor Barnett compares getting the drugs to buying an expensive car instead of a cheaper alternative. But Kate Spall, spokeswoman for the Pamela Northcott Fund, says his views reveal NICE’s “inherent bias”.

Copyright Press Association 2009

The Price of Life

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