Cancer Drug

On the news yesterday that a cancer sufferer has been told that she is not entitled to the "lifesaving" drug Herceptin(?), although she has been given leave to appeal. Is this right or wrong. Have Primary Care Trusts got their priorities wrong. Is it acceptable to place finances above a persons life. The final decision at the moment rests with NHS Managers (who are not the best qualified persons to speak on medical matters) when it should rest with G.P. Your comments please. :D
What is even more bizarre IMHO is that until her appeal is heard she is allowed to have a course of the Herceptin that she needs. I think the Health Authority needs shaking and a few of their over paid blutocrats should fall out, that should allow the money to be found to pay for treatment.

It seems daft to me to waste NHS Public money trying to challenge her rights to treatment. The NHS is supposed to be a National Service, not a regional service depending on how much money they have left. It is completely ridiculous. Postcode Prescriptions! If you are need Herceptin in Scotland you will get it, If you need it in Wales you will get it, but if you need it in England, ah - problem its not been approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence! Sorry.

It is complete Bullshit, and an example of how New Labour have completely Fcuked up the NHS.
bobthedog said:
an example of how New Labour have completely Fcuked up the NHS.
You, obviously, know nothing about the NHS, so save your random rants for the Naafi.

It's my understanding that Herceptin is very expensive and in short supply. The company that make it refuse to drop their price due to the large cost of research, into making it. Therefore, its NHS use is going to be limited.

People can still buy it (whether they should have to or not, is a different argument).

I believe that the Government is looking at making the company lower it's prices.
Herceptin is available through NHS in other areas of England. I know it is very expensive, but it is being denied in other Health Authorities because of their different budgetary regimes.

The reason all drugs are expensive in UK is that there is a captive market, Only the NHS buys drugs from the drugs companies so they pay full rate!

Its because of meddling by various governments that this has come about, but what is not right is that someone who pays her taxes (and therefore the NHS) in one part of the country, gets completely different treatment from another person, with the same condition.

It is ludicrous in this case that the patients treatment with herceptin is actually going ahead until the appeal is heard. If the reasons for denying the treatment were truly on Medical Opinion (as in this case) why is she getting the treatment, and why are the taxpayers having to fund a fantastically expensive court case, thus reducing funds still further.
Surely we all make this type of decision when we spend our wages every month. There are certain things we must spend our money on (mortgage/rent, gas, food etc) and there are other things we really want, but can't afford (nice new car, holidays, gucci kit etc). We have to prioitise, much as the NHS does. They must spend their money where is does the greatest good for the most people.

I think the crime here is the government telling trusts to prescribe the drug, but not providing the funds to enable the process. And while I'm on the subject of the NHS, there'd be much more money sloshing round the system for drugs, if there armies of middle managers weren't employed to clog up the system by demanding ever increasing statistics to prove their targets were being met. I don't even want to start about targets .... rant over.
What's worse is that there are about 100x more cases of prostate cance but only about 10th of the funding breast cancer gets.
But it is also widely known that prostate cancer is, in the majority of cases, more successfully treatable than a lot of breast cancers.
Yea but I prefer to look at t1ts more than prostates.

On a more serious note I cannot see the problem why this women is being denied treatment she is fully entitled to, after all we treat smokers for smoking related aliments, fatties for fatty related aliments, injuries for sporting related accidents, injuries for traffic related accidents and just about every immigrant with an aliment. So why not her?
Potential said:
But it is also widely known that prostate cancer is, in the majority of cases, more successfully treatable than a lot of breast cancers.
In the majority of cases, however (AFAIK) prostate cancer is benign, and is more of a hassle than a killer. This may change as more men start to take Testosterone supplements in the future however.
In the view of the GMC, the regulatory body which licences and monitors all UK medical practitioners, the decision should rest firstly with the patient and then with the doctor. The financial considerations of pen-pushing blotter-jotters should not come into the equation at all.

Herceptin prevents HER-2 protein expression in metastatic (causes secondaries elsewhere in the body) breast cancer. It is more effective than alternative treatments. It is only licenced for NHS use in advanced cancer - however any doctor can prescribe it privately.

The question we should be asking is why do Roche, the company behind scandals such as Larium (an antimaliarial treatment with severely debilitating side effects), feel the necessity to charge such a high price for this treatment?


If my wife or mum needed it I would take in my payslips, point out the Nat ins contributions which exceed the GDP of some African countries and say "Take it out of that!"
I had to pull a similar stunt last christmas after my wife had been bedblocked 3 times for a gall bladder removal, problem was every 2nd or 3rd night she would be so ill that she would be admitted blocking a bed and they couldnt operate due to the state of her. Eventual when it was calm enough to operate in Feb she was blocked again. I called the ward sister and said that"For every time I take time off work and cancel appointments with clients for a week, that is money that Fat Gordon cant tax or NI me on, therefore money lost to the NHS including your salary!" 5 minutes later a call from the bed manager telling us to turn up immediately. No op till really late in the evening so anothe bed blocked for the day. I had a similar event recovering from a car crash where the hopital put a guy in my bed whilst I was in the bog, now I thought only a BMH could do that!
The drug hasent been cleared for early breast cancer for a reason .It has serious side effects .Better to leave clinical descions in the hands of the medics than drag it out in the court room .Roche dont need to get a licencse as people are selling
houses to get it .Why spend your own money proving its safe when people want it anyway .
Yes but all cancer treatments can have serious side effects ... one of the disclaimers you sign when getting chemo/radiotherapy is the understanding that the treatment may at some stage in the future cause cancer!
Which is why the argument should be left to consultants not lawyers imho. Though there is only ever going to be so much money
for the nhs where do you draw the line ?
Country_Bumpkin said:
The question we should be asking is why do Roche, the company behind scandals such as Larium (an antimaliarial treatment with severely debilitating side effects), feel the necessity to charge such a high price for this treatment?
In defence of the big pharma companies, it usually takes about 100 million quid to get a drug to market, and only about one in one hundred compounds investigated makes it this far. With a relatively small base of patients who will be prescribed this drug, they have to make up the research and development costs back, hence the high price.

These companies are the only ones who will fork out for development (the government certainly will not) and because they are private companies, they need to keep their shareholders happy. Sadly, it all comes down to money, as everything in life.
Have had some experience with the drug companies, a good percentage of the price is due to the potential for things to go wrong when prescribed, and provides a fighting fund against any future litigation. Yes the research is extremely costly, but you get nothing for nothing in this world, and if a company wishes to be market leading, research is vital. Once a drug is marketed it has 10 or in some cases up to 25 years of exclusivity, before a rival can make a trade copy of that drug.
Now the drug has only just come and is still in it's trial stages, should it now be the first resort or used a bit further along the line when other treatment appear not to be working. At twenty one thousand pounds per course per person, this a lot money to give out on demand before any other treatments have been tried. Yes I know this sounds mean but things like this can cause the system to collapse, or for you to pay double the amount of tax
W.Anchor said:
Now the drug has only just come and is still in it's trial stages
I think it's past the trial stage - trouble is it only has a licence for the later stages of the condition. The issue is certain consultants are prescribing it in the early stages. Roche don't have a licence for this and are therefore not (officially) sanctioning its use, although are quite happy about the extra income generated. Win win for Roche, although I stand to be corrected by anyone with closer knowledge of the situation.


They did tests which proved the early stage benefits, It is NICE which is dragging its heels thus allowing the PTC's to play the license card!
This from a needing it point of view, not necessarily my own!
Surely if it gets passed to be used in the early stages it has got to work out cheaper in the long run to do that, especially since currently it's being used on secondary breast cancers that means people have already undergone treatment for the primary cancer, or is this going to turn into give them the cheapest option first even though there's more of a chance that they'll have to come back and get this one anyway, makes it look like a short term non-guaranteed saving by not giving it to those that would benefit.

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