Posted by: Emily Hardaker3 FEB 2012
First thing in the morning, on the crowded bus journey I've taken to reading the News on my phone. Yesterday morning one story in particular caught my eye, it was in the Guardian and titled 'Cancer drug too expensive for NHS'. I got rather excited at this point as I hadn't thought I would find a story more interesting than that about a Lion eating an Owl at Colchester Zoo. It talks about the prostate cancer drug, Abiraterone (aka Zytiga), and how it has recently been deemed too expensive for general NHS use by NICE. The drug is said to be one of the last few treatment options for men who have advanced prostate cancer. The reason for NICE saying 'no thank you' is that they have calculated projected costs of the drug and it has exceeded the budget set for people at the end of their lives by approximately £13,000. The reason this article appealed to me is because I find cancer interesting mainly for a lack of a better description because it seems to be that of an half solved puzzle. Also last semester we had a lecture about Medicines Management and sticking firmly to budgets that I found rather enlightening. However after reading the Guardian article the anticipation I had previously felt dissipated. As now that I have some knowledge about Medicines budgets and a vague idea of the process of events that lead to a drug being added to a hospital formulary, the portrayal of NICE as such a monster for saying 'no' annoyed me. I don't feel that it is fair that for as hard a job as they do, NICE don't get the respect and the acknowledgement by the press and therefore the general public for their work. As in my opinion the NHS is one of the best things about this country. The other day my friend came out and said that it was inevitable that the whole thing would be privatised. When I asked her why and how people who couldn't afford treatment would get it she didn't have an answer. Therefore I would love for the press to cut NICE (and the NHS) a bit of slack in the future, although this is probably a pipe dream. Although by a stroke of pure luck it might, as the NICE decision about Abiraterone is being appealed against anyway.