Yesterday the UK’s National Institute of Clinical Excellence (which goes by its Orwellian acronym of NICE) rejected Exubera (inhaled insulin) for NHS use on the grounds that the drug isn’t “cost-effective.” That means they don’t want to pay for it — not because it doesn’t work or it isn’t an advance — but because, well, they just don’t want to pay the additional 10 pounds (about $17.83) per week for those patients who would prefer inhaling rather than injecting their insulin. NICE’s dismissal of resultant savings from enhanced compliance and decreased complications? Total.
Dr. Kate Lloyd, the UK medical director for Pfizer (Exubera is a Pfizer product) called the decision “perverse and short-sighted.” It’s refreshing to hear such a clear and unambiguous shot across the bow from a pharmaceutical company.
Kiss me Kate.
Not surprisingly Diabetes UK (the largest diabetes patient organization in Britain) is — no pun intended — up in arms. Says Simon O’Neill, their director of care and policy, “The government has put patient choice on the NHS agenda. Diabetes UK is disappointed that the (NICE) guidance on inhaled insulin does not reflect this as we believe it could offer an alternative treatment in improving the lives of some people with diabetes.”
To which Dr. Andrea Sutcliffe (NICE’s deputy chief executive) responds, “The clinical experts we asked advised us that using injected insulin is not usually a concern for the majority of people with diabetes.”
Well … what about a sizable minority? Once again we witness the victory of equality vs. quality — the hallmark of government-sponsored “universal health care.” If you believe in cost-based medicine (referred to most commonly in the US by the equally Orwellian moniker of “evidence-based medicine”), then this is what you get. And you better get used to it … or get involved in the debate.
Prime Minister Blair admits that Britain’s health care is at a “crunch point,” but insists that the UK is still on an historic “end to traditional waiting” by 2008.
Makes sense to me. Disallow all new treatments and I too would predict an historic end to waiting — as well as a permanent end to quality health care.
Let’s not allow what’s going on “over there” go unrecognized over here.