The Socialist

The Socialist 2 September 2008


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Swollen profits, suffering patients

TWENTY SIX top cancer consultants wrote to the Sunday Times, attacking the government's health watchdog NICE for denying seriously ill patients with diseased kidneys, four life-extending cancer drugs on cost grounds.

To meet the 500 a week cost of these drugs, cancer sufferers are forced into "remortgaging houses, giving up pensions and selling cars to buy drugs that are freely available in countries of comparable wealth.... NICE's cost-effectiveness formulas are not suitable for this area of medicine."

In defending his agency, NICE chair Michael Rawlins attacked the pharmaceutical giants for driving up the price of life-saving new medicines to boost profits. Drug companies push up the cost, he said, to cushion themselves against the fact that many of their big earners are going off patent, allowing rivals to make cheaper versions.

"Pharmaceutical companies have enjoyed double-digit growth year on year and they are out to sustain that. Their senior management's earnings are related to the share price. It's not in their interests to take less profit, personally or from the point of view of the business. All these perverse incentives drive the price up."

All true and an amazing attack on 'Big Pharma's swollen profits from a leading health service figure - but it doesn't alter the fact that Rawlins is defending the indefensible, the rationing of health care for the sick.

'Save our NHS' campaigners should say no to rationing. The only sure way for the NHS to get cheaper drugs is by bringing the whole pharmaceutical industry into democratic public ownership and creating an integrated and fully funded, free health service as part of a socialist plan of production.

In this issue

'Them and us' economy hits the rocks

Inequality - the world's deadliest disease!

Socialist Party editorial

Russia / Georgia war exposes limits of West

Socialist Party workplace news

Trades Union Congress: Building a real leadership against the bosses

John Mc Donnell MP protests at Unison witch-hunt

London buses: Strikers pack picket lines

Fight threat to Ford Transit plant jobs

Coastguards strike over bank holiday in pay protest

Socialist Party feature

Building a new workers' party: trade unionist initiative needed

Building industrial militancy

International socialist news and analysis

Poland: Biggest workers' demo since the 1990s

Socialist Party campaigns

Terry Fields memorial meeting

Arrested for selling The Socialist

Opposing the far right

Winners and losers at the Beijing Olympics

Water quality threat to health

Adding colour to The Socialist

Socialist Students

School and college students fighting back!

Socialist Party review

Inside Egypt: the land of the Pharaohs on the brink of a revolution

Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS: Save our casualty unit!

NHS 'surplus' = cuts in care

Swollen profits, suffering patients


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2 September 2008