Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, chair of the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, has said that economic pressure on trusts meant that “completely illegal” decisions were being made to limit the use of expensive drugs. He told the Financial Times: “I just wish a patient organisation would take a Trust to court for failing to comply.”
Nice has been criticised in the past for ruling against the prescription of expensive new drugs on the grounds that they are not cost-effective. But Sir Michael told the paper that most of Nice’s recommendations were in favour of prescription and that it was other bodies that blocked the drugs. He criticised the local lists of approved medicines drawn up across the NHS which “second-guess” and sometimes ignore Nice recommendations.
Patient groups for particular diseases (often backed by pharmaceutical companies) have attacked Nice for advising against the use of some expensive new medicines, but Sir Michael said that they should be directing more criticism instead to the drug companies for charging high prices.
The government’s innovation review recognised the problem by pledging a Nice “compliance regime” to reduce regional variation (the “postcode lottery”) and improve adherence to the agency’s guidelines. It cautioned that local decisions should not act as a barrier to the medicines that Nice had approved.
Sir Michael said that patients should sue their health trust if they aren’t getting the best recommended drugs.
Written exclusively for The Life Dept | Live Longer | 9 January 2012
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