The Tories are erroneously accused of a ‘slight of hand’ by the King’s Fund over their funding of cancer drugs from the £200m saved by the NHS on not having to pay for the NI increase. But as the Fund well know, although this money isn’t a current spend, it had been budgeted for by local Primary Care Trusts as the NI increase was announced over a year ago and had to be factored in. Thus a well functioning PCT will now find that this money can be freed up for use elsewhere.
The more important point that the Tories are making however is that the decision over which drugs are approved by the evaluation body ‘NICE’ should not just be based on the economic value. It should also include the value to patients, carers, family and society. Our reports on ‘Value-based Pricing’ makes this substantial point, calling for the fixed threshold used by NICE (to decide which medicines and devices to approve) to become flexible and represent such factors as unmet clinical need, severity of the disease, patient preference and public health impact.