STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

UK NHS cancer patients denied drugs due to inflated prices – say experts

Research reveals how drug firms are charging health service such high prices, some treatments can no longer be offered

Cancer patients are being denied drugs on the NHS that could lengthen their lives because of unnecessarily exorbitant prices, say experts. The drugs are cheap to make, and are available to patients in some other countries at much lower prices, according to new research.

Patients in the UK have been told the NHS will not pay for two such drugs because they are not cost-effective and they have been dropped from the list reimbursed by the government’s special cancer drugs fund.

The price of lapatinib (brand name Tyverb), for breast cancer, was set at $36,000 (£24,000) per patient per year in the UK but costs $17,724 in Thailand. Dasatinib (Sprycel), for leukaemia, was priced at $33,739 in the UK but at $15,423 in Brazil.

The researchers also ask why the UK is not succeeding in obtaining better discounts from drugs the NHS does use. Even some other high-income countries manage to barter the manufacturers down to lower prices than in the UK.

Imatinib (Gleevec) – for leukaemia and some other cancers – costs $31,867 in the UK but $28,675 in France and just $8,370 in Russia. Sorafenib (Nexavar), for liver cancer, costs $57,232 in the UK but $49,715 in Spain and $44,543 in France.

Click on the link to read more

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/sep/23/uk-cancer-patients-being-denied-drugs-due-to-inflated-prices-say-experts

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NHS in war on staff drug use

DOZENS of stressed out NHS workers have been suspended, disciplined or sacked for alcohol and drugs abuse in Scotland.

Around 80 medical staff were temporarily banned from their duties because of substance abuse, with a further 54 facing additional disciplinary action. Up to 20 lost their jobs because of drink and drugs issues while some 50 were offered treatment to overcome their addiction. But it is thought the figures, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation and excluding Tayside and Grampian health boards, represent only the tip of the iceberg.

UK wide, around 100 cases involving substance abuse end up in front of the regulatory body, the General Medical Council (GMC), every year. A support organisation for dentists and doctors struggling with drugs and alcohol admitted it was a huge issue which was simply not being discussed.

Click on the link to read more

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/571443/NHS-war-staff-drug-use

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NHS should stop buying drugs which cost more than £13,000, researchers say

Cutting funding on drugs would stop people with terminal illnesses having the chance to live that much longer, and closing the door on most new treatments. Lets hope it never comes to that. Joanna

 The NHS should not spend more than £13,000 a year on drugs for individuals because higher spending does “more harm than good” by diverting funds from larger groups of patients, economists have said. A study by the Centre of Health Economics, at the University of York, says health spending on costly drugs, especially those which prolong the lives of terminally-ill cancer patients, is not an effective use of NHS resources, and says costs should be capped much lower. But health watchdogs last night hit out at the research, and said following the advice would mean “closing the door” on the majority of new drugs for patients. Under current NHS guidance, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence rarely backs drugs which cost more than around £40,000 a year, but cancer drugs which cost more can be funded via a special NHS Cancer Drugs Fund.

It means breast cancer drugs such as Kadcyla, which costs around £90,000 a year, and can extend life by an average of six months, in those for whom it is suitable, are funded by the NHS, despite their high costs.

Click on the link to read more

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11421013/NHS-should-stop-buying-drugs-which-cost-more-than-13000-researchers-say.html

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Debate about which drugs the NHS should fund has been hotly debated  Photo: Alamy 

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NHS is failing patients, cancer charities warn after life-saving drugs are dropped

An alliance of cancer charities has condemned the system for allocating life-saving drugs in the NHS as a failure after the decision to pull the plug on funding for 25 separate treatments. In a letter to The Telegraph, the heads of 15 cancer charities described the announcement last week as a “knee-jerk” reaction to save money, which would leave thousands of sufferers facing uncertainty – and do nothing to solve the problem of funding new treatments. But they disclose that talks are getting under way between the Government, the pharmaceutical industry and charities to design a new system to help the NHS cope with demand.

An estimated 8,000 cancer patients a year could have their lives cut short following the decision to scale back funding from April. It came after the Cancer Drugs Fund, set up by the Coalition in 2011 following a Conservative election manifesto pledge that treatments should no longer be denied on grounds of cost, announced it is on course to overspend its £280 million budget.

Click on the link to read more

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/nhs/11354200/NHS-is-failing-patients-cancer-charities-warn-after-life-saving-drugs-are-dropped.html

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Anti-psychotic drugs given for wrong illnesses: Half of prescriptions are for conditions that are not mental illnesses

More than half of prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs in Britain are for conditions other than serious mental illnesses, say researchers. And the elderly are twice as likely to be prescribed the drugs as people in their 40s, even though they are linked to a higher risk of premature death in older people. The drugs, often dubbed the ‘chemical cosh’ because they are wrongly used to sedate dementia patients, are licensed for serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  But a study of GPs’ prescriptions between 2007 and 2011, using an electronic database of anonymous patient records, found that less than half were prescribed the drugs for these conditions. Often they were handed out for anxiety, sleep problems and personality disorders, as well as dementia, even though doctors have been told to prescribe them only as a last resort.  This ‘off label’ or unlicensed prescribing resulted in older people with conditions such as dementia and anxiety getting them, says the study published online by the journal BMJ Open.

Click on the link to read more

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2879902/Anti-psychotic-drugs-given-wrong-illnesses-Half-prescriptions-conditions-not-mental-illnesses.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

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Older patients at risk because drugs are tested on the young

There is an embarrassing secret at the heart of medicine.
When it comes to anyone much older than 65, doctors have little evidence to tell them what drug or treatment works.
As Marion McMurdo, professor of ageing and health at the University of Dundee, says: ‘Much of the NHS budget is spent on looking after older people, who often have several chronic diseases.
‘So you’d think that there would be a real effort to make sure that we have the best-quality evidence to treat them.But we don’t.
‘A typical trial of a cancer drug, for instance, involves people in their 50s whose only problem was cancer, and who were taking just that drug.

Click on the link to read more
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2748310/Older-patients-risk-drugs-tested-young.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490*

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Britain braced for a bargain ‘Viagra’ boom: Thousands more to get impotence pills on NHS as price plunges 93%

Hundreds of thousands of men could enjoy a boost to their love lives following an NHS decision to dish out much more Viagra on prescription.
Until this month, only men who suffered impotence as a side effect of illness or those evaluated by a specialist could be given the pills on the NHS.
But since Viagra’s patent ran out last year, its cost has plummeted by 93 per cent as generic versions of the drug have become available.

Click on the link to read more and see the video
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2732953/Britain-braced-bargain-Viagra-boom-Thousands-impotence-pills-NHS-price-plunges-93.html

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Prostate cancer drug ruling a ‘fiasco’, says charity

Abiraterone is already given to patients at the end-of-life after chemotherapy as it gives patients an extra few months.
But the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said it was not cost-effective to offer it earlier.
It said while the drug improved quality of life, it was unclear whether it had the same impact on life expectancy.
This was due to problems with the research data, NICE said, claiming the trial was finished early – something disputed by the drug’s makers Janssen.
‘Vital opportunity’
Instead, patients will have to rely on their doctors applying to the Cancer Drugs Fund, a special pot set aside for cancer drugs not routinely available on the NHS.
Some 3,000 patients have done this in the last year, but that fund is due to end in 2016.
Owen Sharp, chief executive of Prostate Cancer UK, the largest men’s health charity, said the whole process was “a fiasco”.
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Cancer patient Mike Sawkins: “I’m privileged to be on this expensive drug”
He criticised NICE’s inflexibility and the drug company’s results-gathering process, saying: “This decision is a kick in the teeth for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Click on the link to see video and read more
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-28785250

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