UK cancer patients threaten to sue NHS for drug cost refunds

Patients 'demand refunds for expensive cancer drugs' on the NHS
Patients denied expensive cancer drugs on the NHS are threatening to sue their local healthcare trusts for refunds.

By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent
Last Updated: 3:28AM GMT 28 Oct 2008

from The Telegraph

Hundreds of patients have been told that the life extending medications are not "cost-effective" enough to be available on the National Health Service.
Many have chosen to pay to buy the drugs themselves, costing up to tens of thousands of pounds.
Now some are demanding refunds from their local Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).
One trust, Bromley in London, has already compensated a patient for the cost of privately bought cancer drugs, after an internal panel overturned the PCT's decision to refuse the drug.
At least three PCTs have faced calls for refunds from patients.
Later this year the Government is expected to announce that patients can pay for the drugs themselves without facing a bill for the rest of their NHS care, following widespread public anger over the issue of so-called "top ups".
Ian Reynolds, chairman of Wandsworth PCT, said patients were demanding refunds for the money they have spent. Patients can challenge a PCT's decision by applying to be treated as an "exceptional case" before a specially convened panel.
Mr Reynolds said: "We're being sent bills by people turned down by exceptional treatment panels and who have then gone private. "We're not liable to pay but the reality is that these claims will now end up in court."
Keith Farmer, assistant director of corporate affairs at Bromley PCT, said: "As a result of a case going through our normal appeals process we decided to pay back the money that this patient had spent.
"This was a one-off and to my knowledge we have not done anything similar for any other patient."
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that the issue was a matter for PCTs. He said: "If an individual challenges a trust decision to refuse a drug on the NHS it is for the trust to judge whether or not to refund."
There was widespread outrage earlier this year when the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the Government's drugs rationing body, ruled that a kidney cancer drug, Sutent, was too expensive for the NHS.
Patients groups and charities accused the organisation of condemning sufferers to an "early death sentence" by not providing the £24,000-a-year drug.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brazilian strategy.

Brazilians have been suing the SUS (brazilian equivalent to NHS) for a few years now.

As the brazilian constitution guarantees access to health treatment, people usually win.