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Calls for expensive cancer drugs on NHS are 'blinkered'

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A senior member of one of the UK’s drug watchdogs, NICE, has labelled people who demand expensive drugs on the NHS as ‘blinkered’.

Professor David Barnett is the chairman of the NICE appraisal committee, the body that approves medicine for use in the NHS in England and Wales.

In a documentary about the organisation to be broadcast on BBC 2 next week called In The Price of Life, he compared getting the drugs to buying an expensive car.

‘The patients’ views of this are understandable because it is their personal problem. But it’s blinkered,’ he said.

‘To assume that would be an appropriate way to run an effective health care system, within a budget, within a bank account which is a certain size. They wouldn’t do it with their own resources.’

During the filming, a group of patients are observed as they wait to find out whether a £36,000-a-year cancer drug will be approved by NICE.

The drug is only approved after its manufacturer agrees to fund all costs after the first two years.

Kate Spall, of the Pamela Northcott Fund which campaigns to make drugs available to cancer patients, said Prof Barnett’s comments revealed the inherent bias in NICE’s position.

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