How much can the NHS afford to pay for new cancer drugs?
Speaker: Karl Claxton (University of York)
Date: 5 April 2018
Conference: What Is so Special About Cancer? Perspectives from Clinical Research, Philosophy and Social Sciences
Difficult but unavoidable decisions about access to new drugs can be made in an accountable and ethical way by asking whether the improvement in health outcomes they offer exceeds the improvement in health that would have been possible if the resources required had, instead, been made available for other health care activities that would benefit other NHS patients. Recent research has, for the first time, estimated the effects of changes in NHS expenditure on the health of all NHS patients. This research shows that the NHS is currently paying too much for new drugs. It means that more harm is being done to other patients when new drugs are approved for NHS use. The increasing pressure to approve new drugs more quickly at prices that are too high will only increase the harm done to NHS patients overall. The political pressure to support a multinational pharmaceutical sector cannot justify the real harm that has and will continue to be done to NHS patients. What is required is a rebate mechanism to address the current discrepancy between the prices charged and how much the NHS can afford to pay for the benefits that new medicines offer.
• This event was sponsored by the Limits of the Numerical Research Project at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, with generous support from the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF).