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York focus on drugs impact
PATIENTS who need rare and expensive drugs could face a tougher fight in the future if recommendations by York experts are accepted by the Government.
The University’s Centre for Health Economics has produced a paper which it says shows for the first time the impact on some patients of spending money on costly treatments for rarer illnesses.
The report, which has gone before the Government and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), says patients with more common illnesses should be prioritised over those with rarer conditions which require new expensive drugs.
When deciding on whether to recommend a new drug, NICE uses a threshold of between £20,000 to £30,000 and measures it against the wider health impact on other patients if that money is taken from their healthcare.
Rather than using the current range, the researchers at York have estimated a more accurate threshold, based on data, to be £18,317 per QALY (the unit of measurement for the wider impact to the health of another patient).
Prof Mark Sculpher, co-author of the report, said: “Patients in the health system are losing more in terms of health than the benefits you get from a new drug.
“Any change in the threshold will cause a shift in balance of the winners and losers, but it’s very difficult to say where they are.
“If you look at aggregate health across the population you want to make sure you are maximizing that cost-effectiveness.”
If the threshold is lowered it could affect cases such as Donna Exton, featured in The Press earlier this month, who is battling for the NHS to agree pay for a kidney transplant and the annual £400,000 in drugs she needs to keep her alive.