The Drugs aren't cheap
...there are thousands - at least 16,000 elderly people - who are going blind because they cannot get a cheap treatment that is readily available in other countries, from Germany to Mexico to Pakistan.
These British people are losing their sight not just because of NHS underfunding, but mainly because of the incompetence and statism of the system. The world is going dark for thousands of elderly people because we won't let clinicians make independent decisions, and because of the indifference of the Government to an electorally insignificant minority.
Mr Devier fought in the RAF. He has contributed to the NHS all his life, and yet he has no choice - if he wants to save his sight, and if he wants to stay with his wife - but to dig ever deeper into his dwindling savings and pay for exorbitantly expensive private treatment.
Today, he is due to have another injection in an eye, in the hope of alleviating his wet macular degeneration. That injection alone will cost £1,793. In an effort to save his sight, he has now spent approaching £8,000, and he is not a rich man.
I suppose it is irrelevant that he once risked his life for his country, but I find it utterly incredible that we are posing these alternatives to a man at his time of life - cough up, or say goodbye to your eyes.
What has gone wrong with our priorities, when we can allow comparatively affluent people to have essentially cosmetic operations on the NHS - wart removal, tattoo removal, varicose veins - and yet we cannot find the cash to save an old man's sight?
It is bad enough that we live in an age of the postcode lottery, and that there are people over the river in Berkshire who are getting the injections free, on the NHS. It is outrageous that Oxfordshire has the lowest per capita health funding, receiving only 85 per cent of the per capita funding of the next most cash-starved area; and it is, of course, wrong that life-prolonging medicines of all kinds are available free in Scotland - subsidised by the taxpayers of England - and yet are denied to the English on grounds of expense.
And the Tory policy on this is what? More of the same, thought so.
Boris goes onto make another point:
But the real scandal is the way the political masters of the health service are so supine in dealing with drug companies and in getting a good deal for patients.
Today Mr Devier will be injected with Lucentis, a drug which is made by the prodigious Californian company Genentech..Genentech makes another drug, Avastin, and though Avastin is technically a cancer drug, it is now widely agreed to be just as good as Lucentis at treating wet macular degeneration....There are only two differences between them. The first is that if Lucentis were free on the NHS, it would cost about £750 million a year, whereas Avastin has been on the market as a cancer treatment for years, and would only cost £4 million a year for eye patients across Britain....Mr Lavin can give Avastin to his private patients, and he buys it in from Florida at a cost of only $30 a dose. But he cannot give it to NHS patients, because the second difference is that Lucentis is licensed for eye use in this country, but Avastin is not. And why not?
... there is no way on earth the Pharma boys are going to seek a licence for Avastin,...And yet what no one seems to understand is that it is entirely open to the NHS to call the bluff of the pharmaceutical giant. There are plenty of unlicensed drugs already being used, or rather, licensed drugs being used for other purposes. Patricia Hewitt could get a grip and tell the PCTs to use Avastin, even though it is not licensed.
But Hewitt dithers and passes the buck. She blames Nice, or the drugs companies, when it is up to her to step in. But she won't, because of the incompetence of the Government in dealing with the money-making necessities of the pharmaceutical companies, and because of her own blindness to what is going on in the NHS.
Yesterday I linked to a story of how Walmart sre bringing down the price of prescriptions and providing local clinics, I think what Boris is bumbling towards is a call for more of a Walmart frame of mind in our masters who run the NHS. Old Sam would squeeze the Phama boys balls so tight that the drugs our old people need would be as cheap as Smarties.
(Of course bringing the rigours of the marketplace to the NHS is not Tory policy so all Boris can do is bitch and groan not tell us how the Tories would solve the problem.)