"Truth seldom is pleasant; it is almost invariably bitter. A loss of courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days..." Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Commencement address at Harvard University , June 8, 1978

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


A drug that is freely available to cancer patients across Europe and beyond has been denied to NHS patients because the Governments rationing body, Nice, deems it “too expensive” and not “cost effective.”

As if I need to point this, but this move is truly sick and really does boggle the mind. Virtually every EU country allow Bowel Cancer patients free access to the drug, Avastin, which has been proven to extend the life of cancer suffers by up to two years. In France, Germany, Italy and Scandinavian countries, as well as Australia and Canada, the respective Health Authorities all meet the cost of treatment.

This decision by Nice is an extremely huge blow to the 4,000 to 5,000 people who will be affected by this who severely need this drug and could really benefit.

Avastin, also known as Bevacizumab, would cost the NHS around £18,000 for a course of ten months’ treatment given as intravenous infusion with chemotherapy- the price is similar to that in other countries.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence , which looks at quality of life and overall effectiveness, says the annual cost would be at about £36,000. The reason the Nice are kicking up a fuss is because this is above the maximum limit for funding of treatment which currently stands at £30,000, which, interestingly has not risen in over ten years despite huge inflations during the same period.

Any morally right person would be 100% against this.

Because of the Governments scrimping on spending on the NHS, when it comes to such vital treatments, patients waiting for a decision on Avastin are now forced to face the indignity of begging special funding from local health bodies, if that fails they can only hope that there is a trail for the drug happening in their area.

The priorities of the Government and in turn the NHS are a complete mess. The way it should be is that the NHS should be primarily about saving lives not saving money. While we do have to get a balance and ensure that we still have money in the pot, but this should be secondary.

This madness needs to stop. Bowel Cancer patients who are suffering and who are likely to be out of work and don’t have an income to really speak about, have to pay for their treatment and also pay for the privilege to park in the hospital car park.

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