Money or Your Life? Brits Weigh Drug Cost Vs. Benefit

With its restrictions forcing companies to lower prices, some see 'workable paradigm' for US
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2008 11:38 AM CST
An employee of German chemical and drug maker Bayer.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A British government institute that approves drugs based on cost-benefit analysis is coming under fire at home even as other countries are seeing it as a model for bringing down costs, the New York Times reports. Though the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence often balks at expensive life-prolonging medications—denying one cancer patient a $54000 treatment that would have given him six months—some see it “as the only workable paradigm” of US reform.

In a world of skyrocketing medical costs, many think the reasoned approach to drug approval is necessary. But Britain presents a special case, as the government-run health system means the expensive drugs in question are not available at all, unlike the US. Advocates say artificially high drug prices, and not the system, are to blame.
(Read more Britain stories.)