According to analyst Roy Lilley unregulated pharmaceuticals may be permitted to increase the NHS drugs bill with little benefit to patients. He claims that the drugs will become more and more expensive; but we will by them regardless he says that we are essentially writing the pharmaceutical companies a blank cheque which is rather worrying, considering that at present, drug companies are reluctant to launch new drugs in the UK at prices below “global market value” because much of that market is influenced by UK prices.
The aim is to fast track new medicines that could be blocked by NICE on the basis of cost and effectiveness. A former drug company boss, Lord Drayson, has been given the task of promoting life sciences as potential big earners for Britain with the backing of Lord Mandelson, who sees pharmaceuticals as key to the revival of the UK economy.Reports suggest that Lord Drayson favours a system where NICE would appraise the drug after 3 years in the hope that the company would have made substantial profits and so may be willing to drop the price.
Based on the evidence, if Lord Drayson is successful we could see pharmaceutical companies rushing drug after drug in quick succession without them being thoroughly tested. Another big concern is that the prices of these drugs will have very little regulation, these costs are likely to be passed on to patients by taxes being raised which would make them experience even more financial hardship. So the theory that they could be the revival of the UK economy is flawed. Granted they may make more money but that doesn’t really help the general public.
The painkiller co-proxamol has been gradually phased out after its licence was removed in 2007, since then there have been 350 fewer suicides and accidental deaths. The reason the drug was banned was due to the fact that studies such as that done by Professor Keith Hawton of Oxford University showed that co-proxamol was responsible for one fifth of drug related suicides.
Co-proxamol is a mixture of paracetamol and an opiod drug called dextropropoxyphene. It was used to manage the pain in conditions such as arthritis. Co-proxamol is extremely dangerous as even a slight overdose can be fatal as it takes effect very quickly so death occurs before medical attention can be sought.
Since the licence was removed there is a system in place where doctors could prescribe the drug on a named patient basis. This is for patients who are unable to manage their pain using alternatives, although they do so at there own risk because it is an unlicensed drug.
It seems that with any drug there is the risk of an overdose just so happens that the media found out about this one and created alot of hype otherwise known as a moral panic which then caused the regulators to remove it. If that’s the case then why not move drugs such as aspirin, that are readily available because if somebody decides that they want to commit suicide then they will do so using any means at their disposal, so are the regulators going to slowly ban every drug and put it on a named patient only system. This will not only cause problems for people who wish to gain access to analgesia or other fairly routine medication such as hayfever remedies, also it will cause the pharmaceutical companies to lose billions as the number of their product sold will decrease.