I’ve been highly critical of NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) in the past but I’ll give credit where it’s due. In this BBC report University of York researchers suggest the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) is particularly poor value, diverting money from other patient services. They argue the drugs advice body, NICE, has set its price threshold too high.

Researchers at York say the funding level should be closer to £13,000 to provide the most benefit across the NHS instead of a £20,000 to £30,000 limit that NICE currently work with. Thankfully Sir Andrew Dillon, chief executive of NICE, said: “Unless you think that drug companies will be prepared to lower their prices in an unprecedented way, using a threshold of £13,000 per QALY would mean the NHS closing the door on most new treatments.” I applaud his position on this occasion.

What the researchers at the University of York have failed to take into account is the cost to develop a drug can run to hundreds of millions of pounds and someone has to pay for this. I’m not a defender of pharma and I still believe pharma should do more to make drugs more affordable but this type of scaremongering is unhelpful. We need to work with pharma and not impose dangerous limits on treatment. Readers of this blog will know that the new CML treatments which cost much more than £13,000 per year are, essentially, curing people with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. Who knows where these advances will take us, impose limits and we halt progress.

I need to read the report in its entirety but from this overview it appears the conclusions from York aren’t helpful, aren’t clever and don’t take into account the future of cancer treatment. Their recommendations would mean people would die. Perhaps if someone from York is reading this they would get in touch, perhaps we could meet up and perhaps they could tell me just how much my life is worth. I’d also like to ask them what price they put on a cure for cancer and if their report took this into account?

Kris Griffin
Access CML Drugs

BBC Health: NICE ‘sets price too high for NHS medicines’