Losing Out in the Lottery

It’s the bone cancer post code lottery and the winner is…

Anyone living in Scotland. Velcade has been approved for use on the NHS in Scotland since 1994. It slows the advance of myeloma – cancer of bone marrow plasma cells – increasing life expectancy by up to six months.

However, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) the drug rationing agency of the Government (sometimes confused with the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments in That Hideous Strength) has decided that English lives are not worth as much as Scottish lives.

I’m not suggesting that this has anything to do with the fact that much of the English Government is run by Scots, while none of the Scottish Executive is run by Englishmen. I’m not suggesting because the Prime Minister was born and educated in Scotland, and many of his cabinet, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer (and Prime Minister-in-waiting), the Home Secretary, the Defense Secretary, the Transportation Secretary, the Trade and Industry Secretary, the Culture, Media, and Sport Secretary, and the Lord Chancellor (who is the head of
the Judiciary in England and Wales, the speaker of the House of Lords, and the Constitutional Affairs Secretary) are Scots, that there is some sort of bias toward Scotland. It is a coincidence that 35% of the Cabinet are Scots and only 10% of the UK population is Scottish. And that even though Scotland has it’s own Finance Minister, Justice Minister (Home Office and in charge of the Judiciary), Cuture and Sport Minister, those ministries in London that only affect England and Wales are run by Scots. But I digress…

As noted in The Times, “Since June, NICE has refused to endorse five treatments that would extend the lives of people with bowel cancer, leukaemia and breast cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.”

Is it any wonder that Janice Wrigglesworth, from Keighley, West Yorkshire, who suffers from multiple myeloma, commented, “Are they saying a Scottish life is worth more than an English life? They are effectively saying to people with incurable diseases, ‘sit down in a darkened room and die’.”

As reported by the BBC,

A spokeswoman for Myeloma UK said the charity was taking legal advice over the ruling.

“This represents probably the single biggest setback in the history of the treatment of myeloma.”

She said the entire myeloma community, including Myeloma UK and the other charities involved in the appraisal, were devastated.

“Velcade is a proven and licensed treatment and, quite simply, no myeloma patient in the UK should die without having access to it.”


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