NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 10, 2008

Drug rationing is essential in Great Britain's National Health Service (NHS) and ministers should back the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) which plays the key role in deciding which ones are worthwhile, according to a new report by Parliament's health select committee.

Other recommendations:

  • All drugs should be given a rapid appraisal by Nice at the time of launch.
  • Those that clearly work well enough and are cheap enough - probably no more than £20,000 (about U.S. $39,000) a patient a year, which is lower than the current threshold - would be provided by the NHS straight away.
  • More expensive medicines would have to go through a full appraisal which could take more than a year.

The drug industry was not pleased. "British patients already have worse access to new medicines than others in Europe," said Richard Barker, the director general of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

The days of patients getting free care on the NHS are numbered, according to a poll of 1,600 NHS managers by Health Service Journal.  It found 79 percent did not expect it to remain free at the point of need.

Source: Sarah Boseley and John Carvel, "Drug rationing essential for health service, MPs say," Manchester Guardian, January 10, 2008.

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