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Health boss says patients should sue trusts for best drugs

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins- head of the government’s medicines’ quango has said patients should sue their health trust if they are not getting the best recommended drugs.Health boss says patients should sue trusts for best drugsThe killer quango- National Institute for Curbing Expenditure (NICE) was set up by labour to stop the NHS spending money on it’s drugs bill- so it’s unusual for him to speak out about NHS rationing.

Professor Rawlins, the chairman of NICE said the economic pressure on trusts meant that “completely illegal” decisions were being made to limit the use of expensive drugs.

He told the Financial Times: “I just wish a patient organisation would take a Trust to court for failing to comply.”

Nice has been criticised for ruling against the prescription of expensive new drugs on the grounds that they are not cost-effective.

But Sir Michael told the paper that most of Nice’s recommendations were in favour of prescription and that it was other bodies that blocked the drugs’ use.

Sir Michael criticised the local lists of approved medicines drawn up across the NHS which “second-guess” and sometimes ignore Nice recommendations.

While patient groups for particular diseases – often helped by pharmaceutical companies – have attacked Nice for advising against the use of some expensive new medicines, Sir Michael said they should be directing more criticism instead to the drug companies for charging high prices.

The government’s own innovation review recognised the problem by pledging a Nice “compliance regime” to reduce regional variation – the so-called “postcode lottery” – and to improve adherence to the agency’s guidelines.

It cautioned that local decisions should not act as a barrier to the medicines that Nice had approved.