Friday, June 15, 2007

NICE Blind?

Another odd decision from NICE, that's the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence if you haven't deciphered the acronym. Hot on the heels of their no-win, no-fee approach to Velcade, they have evaluated another drug, this time for a condition that causes blindness, and decided to limit it to 20% of potential patients and one eye each! Inevitably, the Scottish equivalent is having none of this and Scots will all be able to be treated for both of their eyes. Again we have ask why NICE evaluates drugs differently from the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, and why the result always seems to be Scots getting treatment that the English and Welsh are denied.

John Baron, local MP and Health spokesman was less than impressed:

This decision is very odd and disappointing given that Gordon Brown’s constituents are going to get Macugen and Lucentis on the NHS, but patients in England are not – as SW Essex PCT has recently confirmed. It also goes against the ethos of the NHS that patients are expected to go blind in one eye before they receive treatment.

Before NICE makes its final decision, it ought to re-examine how it came to this view and should listen to the Royal College and the RNIB – and examine evidence from north of the border.

It is vital that our NHS continues to make available the latest breakthroughs in medical technology to all who use its services. I am therefore concerned that Macugen is the latest in a long line of exciting new drugs that are available free on the NHS in Scotland but not in England. If we have a National Health Service, it must be truly ‘national’.

John is right. Something's up.

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