You are here

Going Blind Waiting for the National Health Service--So Sorry!

Sorry about that!  That's the British government's reaction to the two-year delay in approving a drug that combats blindness.  Too expensive, dear chap ... anyway, keeping your sight is so 20th century!

Reports the Daily Mail:

The head of the NHS rationing watchdog has said he is 'genuinely sorry' for a delay in approving a new treatment for blindness.

But campaigners said Andrew Dillon's comments would be of little consolation to the thousands of Britons who have lost their sight in the two years it took NICE to make its final decision.

The watchdog has now approved Lucentis, which is used to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, a condition which affects 26,000 new sufferers every year.

NICE's original recommendation was that patients had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they would be given treatment to save the sight in the other.

The proposal caused a huge public outcry from doctors and campaigners, prompting a U-turn in December last year before further consultation resulted in the final decision today.

Mr Dillon, the chief executive of NICE, seemed to blame these protests for slowing the decision to make Lucentis more widely available.

He claimed that because NICE's rulings were not made behind 'closed doors' and were open to being challenged, lengthy delays often occurred.

But campaigners said the procrastination, which potentially cost the sight of 50 patients a day, was not their fault.

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists said the latest guidance was nearly identical to the suggestions it made two years ago and campaign groups pointed out that without their intervention, NICE might never have overturned its original decision.

Another great argument for socializing medicine in America!