Don’t have narcolepsy in the wrong Post Code. “…end the postcode lottery and apply some common sense.”

John S Watts writes in the BMJ: ( BMJ 2016;353:i2881 ) Prescribing sodium oxybate for narcolepsy: end the postcode lottery and apply some common sense

Yes, don’t have narcolepsy and remain living in the wrong post code.


Zeman and Zaiwalla’s call to end the irrational and inconsistent rationing of sodium oxybate for the treatment of narcolepsy should be welcomed.1

Of note, a recent case in the High Court, reported in the Telegraph, quoted the judge as describing the decision by NHS England to decline funding of this drug for a 17 year old girl with the condition as a “thoroughly bad decision,” “totally irrational,” and “disastrous.”2 The judge accepted the fact that her condition was deteriorating, and that this was the most effective treatment, a position that was not disputed by NHS England. He decreed that the case was exceptional and fell within the current policy of funding the treatment for such cases. The brief report made clear the devastating effect the condition had on the girl’s life and functioning, and the relatively small cost of the treatment that could have helped improve her symptoms. It is striking that the cost of legal proceedings must have dwarfed the cost of supplying the drug.

It was also disappointing to learn, yet again, of the postcode lottery that still exists for patients from the same country and who pay the same taxes. The NHS was set up to be a national service for health. Instead, it is now a series of local companies, increasingly being run for profit.

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Post Code Lottery, Rationing on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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