Monday, June 25, 2007

This is socialized medicine

When the Government acts as the single payer for health care, it also acts as the sole decider of what health care it will pay for. If you find that it won't pay for a treatment that you believe is vital to your quality of life, what can you do? Sue.

In the first ever High Court challenge of its kind, a judge was urged to force the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), to reconsider its block on the drugs for those newly diagnosed with the disease.

If successful, the case, brought by the drug company Eisai and backed by the Alzheimer's Society, could precipitate a flood of legal actions from patients refused other drugs on the NHS by Nice.

Nice decided last year that Aricept, Reminyl and Exelon - three acetyl cholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs) - should no longer be made available on the NHS to patients in the early stages of the disease.

At a cost of £2.50 a day, the drugs were too expensive when weighed against the benefits to patients with mild Alzheimer's, it said.

But, as the case got underway, Alzheimer's sufferers and their carers protested outside the court claiming the drugs had given them "a stay of execution" and the effect of taking them was "like a fog being lifted."

Inside, Mrs Justice Dobbs heard that Keith Turner, 68, a former chiropodist from Hastings, East Sussex, who was diagnosed in April 2004 and prescribed Aricept, claimed: "It's given me back my life. It's given me back my independence."

"Life was slipping away so fast. But that has all now changed because of this drug", he said in a written statement.

His wife said: "Without a shadow of doubt this one-a-day drug has given us our lives back to the full."

It was "abhorrent and disgusting" that Nice was suggesting that carers like her would be better off in terms of health and quality of life the sooner their sick relative went into care, she said in a statement.

"Even when Keith deteriorates - as we accept he ultimately will - each day we live together at home will be a day we cherish and value," she added.

"Christianized medicine," my foot.

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