Drugs firms helping to sue NHS, judge suggests

Chris Smyth exposes a Perverse Outcome from the governments restrictions and exclusions. Rationing overtly would be fairer.. The Times 5th October 2016: Drugs firms helping to sue NHS, judge suggests

Drug companies may be funding legal challenges by charities against the NHS, a High Court judge has suggested. Mr Justice Blake said that the companies ought to sue the NHS themselves if they wanted to force the health service to pay for expensive new drugs.

NHS funds should not have to be spent on lawyers to defend failed challenges when companies could pick up the bill, he added.

Campaigners hit back, denying that charities were being used as a front to make the NHS pay its own costs and criticising the “insinuations”.

Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of the charity umbrella group National Voices, said that charities must be able to bring test cases “without fear of being wiped out financially, otherwise the organised patient voice would be muzzled”.

The controversy arose out of a victory for NHS England against an attempt by the Hepatitis C Trust to force a judicial review of a decision to limit the use of a new therapy, called sofosbuvir, that can cure patients with very few side effects.

Up to 160,000 patients could benefit from three Hepatitis C treatments but only 10,011 will be given the drugs each year to limit the cost to the NHS to £200 million.

The charity claimed that this violated a legal duty to fund treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Mr Justice Blake ruled that the limit was “not an arbitrary cap” but a way of treating the most serious cases first. “If prioritising need is legitimate then a monthly run rate is a rational way of implementing the duty.”

He rejected a plea to make NHS England pay more of its legal costs.

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Perverse Incentives, Stories in the Media 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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