I don’t get angry very often. I am concerned about a number of things, and although issues such as land planning use (housing) could be solved relatively easy and would make my own life, as well as tens of millions of others, much better off, I don’t get angry about high rents and a seemingly unaffordable aspiration like a mortgage.
The Times, however, is leading with a story that is infuriating.
“HIV drug puts other care at risk, warns NHS” The highlight being a drug which is used to treat children, starting from 2-5 years old, who suffer (and I mean suffer) from Cystic Fibrosis. It improves their lung function and reduces the amount of mucus that build up in their lungs. As someone who has an undue amount of mucus in my lungs, that sounds like a great prospect, and if you can make kids live much longer lives by reducing the damage done to their lungs from an earlier age, then do it. At £180,000 per year per person, Ivacaftor costs a lot of money and although I can’t put a price on it, I can say that CF is thoroughly miserable. My lung function was as low as 38% last year. If you extrapolate that out, then you don’t live very long.
Now the NHS in England, after reversing its initial decision to fund PrEP, has now been told by the High Court that is must do so. PrEP is a treatment, and Truvada is a drug used in that treatment which lowers the chances of getting HIV, which in purely monetary terms costs about £350,000 per person per lifetime. Not cheap, but cheaper than Ivacaftor currently costs. I say currently costs, because for both drugs, there are cheaper alternatives coming down the pipeline. The £5000 pp py cost of Truvada should be cut by buying a generic version which costs 80% less in around a years time – good.
As someone who is living with a death sentence, being given one is not something I would wish on anybody. Of course, HIV is no longer a death sentence, but the dread that someone must feel in waiting for results is something that I haven’t had to endure, I have always known. I wouldn’t like to find out what that feels like. We aren’t talking about hedonistic gay men when we are talking about PrEP, we are talking about people who are at risk of HIV infection, and they tend to be very vulnerable indeed.
So for NHS England to come out and say that they can’t afford treatments, and to in essence “blame it on gays” is not “unusually blunt”, but nasty and infuriating, because it is pitting very ill people and the people who care about them against one another.
I don’t think the NHS is a terribly good idea, and I although I know that this sort of thing, with a limited amount of funds being available, would eventually happen, I think it is beneath contempt to raise this issue of rationing when gay men are involved, and oh, we will pit them them against children who struggle to breath.
If it starts a rational conversation about how we fund a health service, which it will not in the slightest, then the officials at NHS England have done a good thing. But, in an alarming absence of pigs plus wings, then the people who briefed The Times should tale a long hard look at themselves.
There are a number of very sensible reforms which we could do to make us live longer and save the Taxpayer money, some of which I will link below.
I will end this by quoting The Times;
“Children with cystic fibrosis will be refused a drug to help them to breathe”
Hardly the way to start talking about healthcare in the UK, is it?
Kristian Niemietz on the NHS and it’s underfunding.
Anton Howes, on Patient led Commissioning Groups.