Time Drugs Firms Cut Their Prices; LETTERS

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 24, 2009 | Go to article overview

Time Drugs Firms Cut Their Prices; LETTERS


SIR - Once again I was saddened and angered to hear that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has said the cost of Nexavar, a drug used to prolong the lives of patients with hepatocellular cancer - was "simply too high".

At around pounds 3,000 per month per patient, at first glance this may seem reasonable, but when you then realise this is a rare form of cancer with only around 3,000 sufferers diagnosed in the UK each year, it puts the numbers realistically needing this drug into perspective.

The prognosis for this group of patients is also poor with only 20% of patients surviving 12 months after diagnosis.

In addition, what cost can one put on prolonging the lives of advanced cancer patients, giving them priceless days with their families, to allow them to come to terms with dying and to enjoy their final days together.

It also raises the ugly question of financial budgets and capitalism ruling healthcare. As doctors our duty is to do our best for our patients, yet our hands are often tied by these rules and judgements, even when we feel a particular treatment would be in a patient's best interest. Special circumstance applications take time, time these patients do not have. And why the extortionate cost for these drugs? I accept that they take time and money to develop and research, but surely the pharmaceutical companies are making vast profits, in a similar way to previous drugs such as Herceptin and anti-retroviral drugs for HIV. …

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