Buying Pricey Drugs harms More UK Lives Than It Saves

Buying pricey drugs harms more UK lives than it saves
• 19 February 2015

The researchers found that, overall, more people suffer than gain if the NHS buys expensive but marginally effective medicines (Health Technology Assessment, DOI: 10.3310/hta19140).
The study's co-leader, Karl Claxton at the University of York, blames the US, whose healthcare system pushes up prices globally. "It makes high-cost investments in drugs that bring only marginal benefits, and the rest of the world is a victim of the prices in the US healthcare system," he says.
Claxton's analysis found that people using the NHS are harmed when it buys expensive drugs because resources are taken from elsewhere in the system.

Most controversially, he calculated that the Cancer Drugs Fund, which will have a budget of around £340 million for 2015-16, harms around five times as many people as it helps. Spending on expensive cancer drugs leads to reductions in other cancer services and treatments, such as early diagnosis, high quality surgery and radiotherapy, and many other treatment areas such as mental health and respiratory disease. "There are real effects on real people who will die or suffer as a result of these additional costs," says Claxton.
His team based their study on calculations of how much it costs to keep a person using the NHS alive and in good health for a year – a measure of healthcare costs called a QALY. In 2013-14, the Cancer Drug Fund's budget of £231 million will have gained 3374 of these years for those treated, but 17,821 would have been lost elsewhere as a result of cuts to pay for the pricey cancer drugs.
This article appeared in print under the headline "Cost of pricey drugs"

Source: Medscape
Date: 23/3/15

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