16 October 2003
NHS Tayside is seeking to claw back in excess of £100,000 from drug companies who manufacture the drugs given to people with multiple sclerosis, writes Marjory Inglis, medical reporter.
Tayside Health chiefs heard today that the region has probably the highest percentage of MS patients in the world.
Some time ago the Government insisted that suitable patients likely to benefit from expensive MS drugs should be given them as part of a “risk sharing” scheme with the drugs company.
A national body that looks at the suitability and cost effectiveness of new drugs stated the MS drugs were not cost-effective but health authorities and the drug companies should work together to find what types of patient benefited to what degree and to determine at what price treatment would be cost-effective.
In essence, while the government is insisting these expensive drugs are given, they are leaving it to local individual health authorities to come to some agreement with the drug companies over how much they will pay during the study period.
Neurologist Jonathan O’Riordan, from Ninewells Hospital, told members of NHS Tayside Finance and Resources Committee, meeting in King’s Cross today, there are about 1200 patients in Tayside with multiple sclerosis and the disease affected individuals very differently.
The drugs in the scheme, which cost up to £9000 a year per patient, appeared to benefit patients in the early stages of the disease who were not already significantly disabled by MS.
In a briefing paper before committee members, it was stated that a budget of £880,000 a year had been set aside to treat patients with the drugs.
Far more patients were deemed eligible in Tayside than the government had predicted. It was likely an annual overspend of almost £500,000 for these drugs was likely.
Professor Tony Wells said local managers were seeking approval to negotiate with the drug companies manufacturing the MS drugs.
“We think we can recover upwards of £100,000 from the drug companies”
said Professor Wells.
Copyright © 2003, Evening Telegraph