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British Balance Benefit vs. Cost of Latest Drugs
Posted by: manu_s 1:24pm, Thursday, 4 December 2008
When Bruce Hardy’s kidney cancer spread to his lung, his doctor recommended an expensive new pill from Pfizer. But Mr. Hardy is British, and the British health authorities refused to buy the medicine. His wife has been distraught.

“Everybody should be allowed to have as much life as they can,” Joy Hardy said in the couple’s modest home outside London.

If the Hardys lived in the United States or just about any European country other than Britain, Mr. Hardy would most likely get the drug, although he might have to pay part of the cost. A clinical trial showed that the pill, called Sutent, delays cancer progression for six months at an estimated treatment cost of $54,000.

But at that price, Mr. Hardy’s life is not worth prolonging, according to a British government agency, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. The institute, known as NICE, has decided that Britain, except in rare cases, can afford only £15,000, or about $22,750, to save six months of a citizen’s life.

manu_s says: Interesting article on what happens when people are forced to do a real cost-benefit analysis of medical treatment. This blog post gives some good background.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/health/03nice.html

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