Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Postcode Lottery

There is a new drug to treat Myeloma, somthing that I am quite interested in as I am currently in remission from that ghastly disease. Revlimid - or lenalidomide - has been given marketing approval by the European Medicines Agency, which is great as trials suggest that it markedly increases the survival chances of people who have already had treatment but where the disease has returned. One of the fun things about Myeloma is that the disease usually returns, so this is a very likely scenario. The trouble is that for England and Wales NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, or Cost Effectiveness as it is wryly known in the medical profession, now has the ball. Their past record is not stellar, delaying or denying drugs that are available almost anywhere else in the developed world because of some arcane actuarial calculation. They did this with Velcade for Myeloma, and Herceptin for breast cancer to name but two. Let's hope their process doesn't end up with doctors having to tell patients that it isn't a good use of resources to keep them alive. Let's hope that in the interim NHS trusts don't refuse to prescribe Revlimid while they wait for NICE count the beans.

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