The Price of Life

The Price of LifeDocumentary about the rationing of high cost cancer drugs by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

On a finite budget, the NHS cannot afford to offer every treatment on the market, so how is it decided which medications should be made available?

Adam Wishart follows the nail-biting decision about one drug, with unprecedented access to decision-makers the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, the patients who need a life-extending treatment, and the American company that discovered and will profit from it.

As the body that decides which pharmaceutical treatments the NHS can afford, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence wields enormous power over many patients in the UK.

Focusing on the cancer drug Revlimid, this eye-opening documentary, by director Adam Wishart, speaks to a senior member of the Institute and to those – such as cancer patients and NHS managers – who will be affected by its decisions.

Watch the full documentary now

Ratings: 8.50/10 from 10 users.

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28 Comments / User Reviews

  1. dewflirt

    Miserable. Not allowed to negotiate with drug companies, which id**t came up with that rule? Wishart said it all. Some people fight for every last second of life at any cost and others fly to Switzerland and give it up. Eventually it will be time to die, hard to know when enough is enough either way.

  2. Antonis D. Politis

    Hard but true.. These are decisions that have to be taken..

    Sth important: drug companies can't be common for-profit companies.. We have to find "other" models for producing drugs.

    Thanks for the doc!

  3. dufas_duck

    The cruel irony is that those bureaucrats on the NHS will fight tooth and nail for life supporting techniques and expect to receive them when they themselves come to that point.

  4. Barzee

    no the person who came up with not being able to negotiate with them compaines is pretty clever, that way they have the power and the bastards stay rich.

  5. dewflirt

    Making money from fear, mercenary. Tax cuts for the rich, yay.

  6. KsDevil

    This is Sarah Palin's death panel at work in England. Of course in the US, these desisions are made on private insurance panels. It doesn't matter what you think, the same decision will be made no matter which medical panel is used and any attempt to control costs will end up in a politician losing an election.

  7. dewflirt

    Sarah Palin? Did she manage to string a sentence together?

  8. Nathan Daniel

    the funny thing about all this is is that the chemical structure of this drug is very simple and it could easily be mass manufactured very cheaply.

  9. john ng

    There's a few underlying assumptions that need to be cleared up, which i don't know the answer to.

    1. The drugs can still be purchased privately by the patient right? they just want the gov to pay for it, rather than themselves.

    2. That the money saved on new drugs is not used to buy other drugs for other patients. i.e. if the NHS spent 100K/yr for 1 patient, wouldn't that mean that they 4 other patients only needing 25K/yr are excluded? (under a fixed budget)

    3. Why are the drugs so expensive?, as one other comment mentions.

    4. Is the money that goes to the pharmaceutical companies being wasted? or actually being used to develop more drugs. 30 thousand or 40 thousand dollars a year is still miniscule compared to how much the bank and fund managers have cheated me with mortgages and financial products. I'm pretty sure the bank has contributed less to drug development than a small biotech or pharmaceutical.

    5. Is there actually a solution to this problem? even if every drug is subsidised, every patient still wants the latest and greatest drug available, as soon as a pharmaceutical puts out a new drug, the problem will start all over again. If there are no drugs at all, this problem doesn't exist. But don't we want drugs to be available.

    :-( Not a simple issue at all.

  10. norlavine

    All arguments aside, once 'economics' comes into an equation, 'philosophy' needs to be thrown out, because it won't work past a certain point.
    Our lives have become as worthwhile as the cash flow they can generate.
    Monopoly is the name of their game and we allow them.
    Alternative Option 1
    the chemists who successfully 'cook' meth amphetamines etc could put their backyard skills to better use and clone some ultra cheap yet nevertheless profitable drugs such as lenalidomide and put them on the 'black market' - in reach of everyday people and their limited cash.
    Mainstream Option 1
    Perhaps the creators of life saving/extending drugs could be the sole recipients of mega rewards in order for the good work to continue, because the actual ingredients/manufacturing costs so very little.
    Current Option 1
    Unless you are a corporate head, movie star or sports icon, never get sick. x

  11. monalisaandmadhatters

    The problem is corporate profits are more important than people. There is a basic health care for the non paying and then there is the elite health care for those who can afford it. There is a two tiered system in any universal health care in countries like England and Canada etc. At least there is basic health care, unlike let's say the USA. Where you have free health care, you do have adequate even good care but you also have some drugs that are too expensive for universal care and so they come at a price. Perhaps, the govt's need to restrict profits of these drug companies in the interest of public health. The other thing is, that the public near to look at healthy living as a preventative medicine, including nutrition to avoid dependency on universal health care.

  12. norlavine

    I agree to a point - but some people get sick no matter how well they eat or live.
    Because we differ from most other creatures in that we have a 'civilization' - we are dependent on each other.
    My philosophy is to care and be cared for - no compromise. xx

  13. norlavine

    Yeah, the only good thing to come out of a patents office was Albert Einstein!
    Congrats to India, taking Bayer to court and winning the right to copy the drug and making it affordable. I see where Roche is following suite with other cancer management drugs next year, except they are volunteering the reductions themselves.xx

  14. PeSO821

    Hanging to life for at any cost is selfish. It should be considered honoroble to die earlier and enable other people to have better lives.
    Some native cultures have this noble tradition. A person decides himself when when it is time to go.
    There is something larger than life in decision like that.

  15. ProudinUS

    Amen..............I seen both my parents die of cancer a yr a part and had good insr and meds. They got a cure for this sh&t. But $$ would be lost,huh? The medical profession is as stale and asleep now as is was 40 yrs ago. Who needs them!

  16. dewflirt

    Like elephants :)

  17. raja

    @Norlavine, Yes its correct. I think people have forgot the basic of human body. As long as you have the body you are immune to get sick bcas of food intake, envirnoment in which ur living, aging etc etc. Also each and every person has different body type means resistance to certain things (including medicines) that why in auyurveda its mentioned that you cant give the same dosage of medicine to each person suffering from same diseaes, depending upon the body types it also includes the mental aspects not just physical the medicine/treatment should be given. I think most of the diseases are happening because of over consumption and the body is not able to process them since most of the food we are eating today are not naturual infact they are processed, added chemicals including salts and sugar level which you will never intake if you eat raw salt or sugar directly. Also I think in todays world profilt, incentives, interest specially the compund interest are more important than fellow human beings for those drug manufacturing companies.

  18. Tommy

    Sorry for the short meaningless comment but things like this make me so angry

  19. David Edwards

    Good doc, thought provoking for me. Interesting, debatable and a subject that affects many.

    Interesting how the drug company offered a price they claimed was based upon the effort and investment of research both for the drug and potential new drugs, yet when the drug was declined they offered a special deal in effect lowering the price. Did the research of new drugs suddenly become cheaper? Are they trying to maximise profits like they deny, or are they just trying to get the drug on the market at the expense of future research? Of course getting the drug on the market and profiteering are not exclusive. Yet the driving force behind the decision(to lower the price of the drug) being "to get the drug on the market" alone would be(i guess, its debatable) the more ethically acceptable.

    It would be great if they just sold the drug at the cost of production however then who would pay for the research? I, personally, would not mind paying extra taxes, or diverting funds from "defense" budgets. But then, how much should we spend, and in what areas? Once invented however, with income from taxpayers assured there would need be no profit to research the next drug and the drug could be manufactured and used at base cost.

    Interesting how the drug was cleared for use with the NHS but with a limited budget i wonder what will be the true cost. What services and treatments will suffer. Is it true that the people in charge of evaluating new drugs now deem that a months extra life at the end of your life, is worth 1.4times the amount of a months life for people who have longer to live? Its sad that someone has to decide the value of peoples lives, but i guess under a monetary system it must be done.

    Once again the sole barrier holding back societies ability to alleviate pain is but printed paper less then a mill thick and human suffering is a commodity to be traded at profit.

    If i understand it correctly, we seem to be able to produce an endless amount of money from nothing, why then are so many suffering because of the lack of it?

  20. panthera f

    Governments have their own agenda, believe me, and WE aint in it. :-((
    Money is.

  21. magarac

    I remember reading about the old people of the inuit just going outside to die in years when they had little food available.
    Pretty tough decission to make, just leaving to freez to death.

  22. Guest

    wow, once again a death ear. u win. I won't bother or ask ya again. just please give privacy a chance. U took everything else. nothing left! Bye

  23. mo_dem

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I read that a huge amount of research that big PHARMA does is paid by taxpayers thru government-supported entities such as NIH, public health institutes, etc. It could well be that PHARMA's well-worn claims of research costs driving up the cost of new drugs is another of those myths that we have been brainwashed to believe.

  24. felicity0118

    what i don't understand is if the drug was too expensive and the nhs rejected it, how was that any use to the pharmaceutical company? if they don't lower the price, they don't get paid. surely its better for them to lower the price? and its incredibly fustrating to see that woman say that because of the acceptance of that drug meant that 30 babies will die in her trust because i know full well that the nhs is pissing money away on equipment that is unnecessary and costs £100k/year for each hospital and thats only one piece of equipment! silly nhs

  25. daryan

    Dare I say it, but because corporations are greedy! They don't try this trick in the BRICS, because they know the Indian or Brazilian government will simply decide thay they're being robbed blind, copy the drug and start running off their own version of it for a few pence a dose.

  26. Jessica Li

    lmao. british teens and infant mortality. teens. do. stuff. like. get high and drunk and stuff that young people do. for ****sakes.

  27. jameshand

    covernment are only bothered about there own...they soon find the money if this was the case..

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