A recent report suggests that cancer patients in England are suffering from serious lack of access to vital treatments due, generic in part, discount to problems with the drug assessment and approval process. The UK and other European health systems use central health technology assessment (HTA) to decide whether to cover a given treatment, doctor but these processes are ultimately designed to help manage healthcare budgets – not get the best outcomes for patients. In cancer care, however, you get what you pay for.
Countries with single payer systems in health care – like the National Health Service in England, for example – must balance limited resources against the healthcare needs of their populations. To more efficiently allocate healthcare dollars, many countries use health technology assessment (HTA) to evaluate the cost effectiveness of new treatments in order to guide approvals and price negotiations. In England, this process is conducted by the National Institute for Clinical and Health Excellence (NICE). A recent report published by two cancer charities in the UK, however, suggests that the HTA process – especially the process in the UK – may be hurting rather than helping patients.
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