Private prescriptions within the NHS

"Our post on 'Topping-up the NHS with private prescribing' has generated a healthy debate. In response to a query yesterday I thought I would highlight an example of private prescribing within the NHS in relation to the management of MS."

"Despite a European license, and the dramatic examples below, the NHS Commissioning Board have decided that we can't prescribe Fampridine to MSers as it is not cost-effective; i.e. the NHS simply won't pay for the drug. The following is their policy document that was recently published."

"The following are two YouTube videos of MSers who have responded to Fampridine."

"In response to this Biogen-Idec, the company who markets the drug in the UK, have launched a private patient responder identification scheme. This allows MSers to receive free drug for a month to see if they respond or not. If they respond they  then have to pick-up the bill for any future prescriptions. Before receiving a free trial of the drug they have to sign a consent form and agree to the points below."

In signing this form, I understand/acknowledge that:

  1. I will be initially prescribed and supplied with up to 4 weeks of Fampridine, during which my response to treatment will be assessed.
  2. Fampridine (including delivery) will be provided free of charge by Biogen-Idec for the initial treatment period (up to 4 weeks), and that I will be responsible for any additional costs imposed by local groups/bodies (such as, but not limited to; dispensing fees, tariffs, duties, etc.).
  3. Should I not respond to Fampridine, treatment will be discontinued.
  4. Should I respond to Fampridine and wish to continue with therapy after the initial treatment period (up to 4 weeks), I understand that, as a private patient, this will be by private prescription for which I will be required to pay.
  5. Biogen-Idec has no involvement in, or funding responsibilities beyond, the supply of Fampridine during the initial treatment period (up to 4 weeks).
  6. My physician has explained this process to me and I have had the opportunity to have any questions answered fully.
  7. I agree that my personal details can be shared with the homecare delivery company for the purpose of supplying Fampridine.

"I have only had one person in my clinic sign-up to this scheme via one of our specialist nurses. It seems from the response to the 'Topping-up the NHS with private prescribing' post that a lot of you think schemes like this are unethical and against the ethos of the NHS. I am not convinced this scheme is unethical, but it is clearly against the ethos of the NHS (free healthcare at point of access). If the NHS is rationing care based on cost-containment why shouldn't individuals who can afford to pay for private prescriptions have the option of a trial of a licensed therapy? We live in a modern democracy that values individual choice; this would be an individual choice. We also mustn't forget that Fampridine is a licensed therapy; MSers in other European countries have access to this drug. I wonder what the European Court of Justice would have to say on the position the NHS Commissioners' have taken on Fampridine? Is the NHS undermining the European experiment? Is it ethical for other European MSers to have access to Fampridine and not UK MSers?"

"If you disagree, or agree, please feel free to join the debate by completing the following survey."


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