Should Herceptin be offered on the NHS? Who should make the decisions about which treatments are offered by the NHS? Send us your comments and experiences.
I had a mastectomy a almost two years ago, then a course of chemotherapy (including participating in trials) then radiotherapy. I am now a single parent, working full time, bringing up two daughters, aged six and twelve. What would the cost be to the government if I die and the children were put into care?
The most worrying aspect of this situation is not facing death, it is the worry of not being there for my children, to love and hug them, and let them know that they are special.
Herceptin may not be a wonder drug, but it gives hope to an illness that leaves you powerless, helpless and voiceless. My hospital said I had to wait for two years to have a mammogram after my mastectomy, even though the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. What was Tony Blair saying about it not being a postcode lottery?
Susan O'Connor, Richmond, North Yorkshire, England
Why should we support cancer research when the successful drugs developed are not given to cancer patients? So long as every politician talks about health care being "free at the point of delivery" the only person who should decide what treatment they should have is the patient. To have it any other way is simply immoral. When they waken up and introduce a more rational system the patient should still be in charge.
David and Valentyna Thomas, Inverness, Scotland
I feel £20,000 to keep a woman alive is cheap compared to the costs of treating a return of the cancer with surgery and/or chemo and/or radiotherapy and all the aftermath including physiotherapy and counselling, not to mention the costs of child-care and family support during the treatment. Then one also has to consider the loss of her earnings and contribution to the national tax pot and the cost of child care and family support and the psychological effect on her children and their future earning power should she die through lack of this drug. It's a bargain!
Sarah Dudfield, Gembloux, Belgium
My friend Maria died in June after being part of a test group for this drug. It was authorised for use on the day of her funeral. Herceptin, which could save thousands of lives, is part of her legacy.
I am livid that people are being denied Herceptin whilst expensive IVF treatments are now free. Is infertility fatal? Money earmarked for non-essential treatments could go towards Herceptin costs.
Part of the criteria for being accepted seemed to be the patient's circumstances: were women without children or older women lower priority? Do we have the right to value one adult's life over another?
Lori Jolly, Reading, Berkshire UK
I watched the programme last night and really felt for the women and their families who are literally fighting for their lives. Drugs should be available to all isn't that why the NHS exists in the first place? There should be more funding and also NHS trusts must be held to account over their management of funds. I have Epilepsy and now have mental problems developing as I have had to wait two years for the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and the testing I need for my Epilepsy. My health trust is in the red and has spent millions on doing up the hospital at the expense whilst at the same time closing wards and cutting services for the mentally ill. I don't want a pretty hospital if it means I lose my home and job as there is only one designated bed for the tests I need in the whole hospital.
Jane, N Yorkshire
Without meaning to justify the high prices that pharmaceutical companies impose, it is in fact a circle which is unbreakable. They spend billions of pounds inventing and testing new drugs, then must sell them to recoup those losses as well as (obviously) make a profit. If the prices were substantially lowered for new drugs, the companies would go out of business and there would be no one around to invent new treatments.
Paul, London, UK
I've read the trials, I understand the evidence. This drug has the massive potential benefit to me of prevent recurrence (I had large and aggressive cancers with significant lymph node involvement), if it recurs it will be secondary spread from which there is no recovery, it will require further expensive treatment. I have 20+ years' working life left to pay my taxes, look after my children without additional state support, i.e. everyone wins.
My primary school aged children watch the news and ask my why other women get medication paid for by the NHS and I have to fund my own?
I can't answer this.
The problem with the drug budget is that it is an easily identifiable cost. However the effects of not prescribing on social services, decreased taxation revenue etc. etc. is not as easily seen.
I get angry when I read many of reports in the media. No Breast Cancer patient in my situation believes this to be a cure - our Consultants are very clear in the information they give us. The studies published are good - well designed and the results likely to be reliable.
Unfortunately I (and many women like me) can't afford to wait for years for the survival data to come. We have to be treated here and now.
I have clear clinical need.
A HER2+ve patient currently self-funding Herceptin, UK
Wonderful programme but certain things not made clear.
I am 36 years old and diagnosed HER2. I have been treated privately with medical insurance and have had a lumpectomy and 3/4 of the way through Chemotherapy.
My oncologist from day one has been stating that she would be prescribing Herceptin at the end of the Chemotherapy regime and radio. I was horrified and tragically shocked that my medical insurer was not going to provide funding for this. They have stated they do not allow funding of preventative medicine. Of all the medical insurers only they have adopted this policy so please, please, please warn your viewers to carefully consider their choice of medical insurer. You can imagine the shock to me at this critical time in my 36 year old life with a loving husband and a beautiful seven year old daughter.
Lizzie Ironmonger, Chelmsford, Essex
I really feel for those that need Herceptin. I have secondary breast cancer in my liver. I am not Herceptin receptive but I know the fears and concerns of the women and men that can have it. I feel that there should never be a cost on a human life. But I also would like to know what is being done for those that can't have Herceptin. Maybe that needs to be brought in to the lime light so it can also be addressed. Lack of information on secondary breast cancer is also limited. All this needs funding. Where is it to come from? My long term prognosis is that I have as long as a piece of string. I am on chemo for the long term until it works no more. I am 37 with three children ages 17, 13, and ten.
Hailey Finch, Heatfield East Sussex
Further to the Panorama program of this evening.
I am disappointed no one asked the question "why is Herceptin so expensive?"
The drug companies are among the largest and most profitable companies in the world, why are they allowed such huge margins.
NB. The drug companies have had to back down in the face of public opinion over anti retro virals for HIV sufferers in low income countries.
Carson Harte, N.Ireland
This seems to be the norm that the policies are made when media shouts loudly and the public demands are made public. I know that the other less glamorous specialities are ignored or not given the much needed cash injections. (Mental health, some maternity services and disabled and the aged.) I feel that the decisions should be made fairly by allocating money where it is most needed than where the spot light is.
Sabina Ahmed, Taunton, Somerset
I am a senior biomedical scientist currently performing HER2 testing. A very interesting program, however there was no explanation of what HER2 is - the brief reference to HER2 being "cancer" could be very misleading. Some basic definitions of the stages of breast cancer may have helped the general public understand why this drug is not suitable for all breast cancers.
What about the divorced man in his fifties with bowel or prostate cancer? Will people march through Westminster for his drugs or will the Daily Mail not want to take that up? More importantly, if a patient dies taking an unlicensed drugs due to the Health Secretary's pressure, will she take responsibility for her actions?
Ant Hopkins, London, UK
How can you put a price on someone's life? The NHS is there to provide an equal standard of healthcare of which everyone is entitled to. Money shouldn't be an issue. If the drug can save lives then those it will benefit should be entitled to it on the NHS.
Catherine Laws, Macclesfield, Cheshire
The doctors prescribing the treatment. I think this country is an absolute disgrace now. The government have made an absolute shambles of our country spending money on stupid projects like the millennium dome!? Where is their logic?
Lucy, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
The fundamental question is about how much are you and I are prepared to pay for all of these increasingly costly drugs. At the end of the day, governments are only the co-ordinators for distributing our taxes, they do not generate wealth unlike a profit making company.
Steve Kerridge, Reading
I've just seen the Panorama program on the breast cancer drug, and I simply don't understand......one of the most important questions hasn't been asked....WHY is this drug so expensive....how do ROCHE justify its price....?????? The real scandal seems to me to lie here....
Erica , France
I am a midwife working in a very busy East London hospital, and have known women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, survived it and some not! Knowing that there is a drug available for use that could cure and is not available for all is very difficult for women to bear and understand! The government has a duty and responsibility to fight large pharmaceuticals that are manufacturing drugs and demand lower prices so that all PCTs can offer Herceptin to woman in all stages of cancer! Why is the drug so expensive? It would have been very informative if they explained to the public watching panorama why the drug was so expensive? Is it that expensive to manufacture? Or is it another case of pharmaceuticals making massive profits on human life? I am appalled and disgusted in the profit making business on human life! When is enough enough? When is the government going to take a stand and say this far and no further!
Michael Bird, London
Excellent programme. Why not divert the substantial funds paid to the private advisers/consultants employed by the major Government Departments to the payment for this drug? The Times recently suggested that Mr Prescott's Department paid fees of £168 MILLION to consultants to advise re the demolition of Victorian and other houses. Cull the consultants and turn over the savings to the NHS. This applies to all Government Departments and Downing Street.
Peter O'Connor, London
I think it should be the Oncologist who decides what treatment should be given to their patient, it should not be rejected because of circumstances or money, each life is worth saving. I have terminal cancer, which isn't HER2+, so would not benefit from Herceptin. However I can relate to the frustration of the women who have been turned down knowing that their life, in the eyes of the Government, is not worth saving. Perhaps if more Governemnt officials were to be diagnosed with Cancer, then things may start to move forward - is that what it will take to make a difference to our lives?
Gillian Baines, Haworth, West Yorkshire, England
We are a comparatively wealthy country. We can afford to spend enormous amounts of money on wars and aid abroad. We need to prioritise our spending and ensure that our society has the money there to fund any available treatment. I had breast cancer last year and there are no drugs available for me to take apart from chemotherapy. If there was I'm sure I would think that an extra 1 in 18 life saved would be good odds. Most people would. The government must give extra funding to the trusts. No-one should feel guilty or that they're taking away treatment from less vocal patients.
Julie Vick, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
As a nurse working in the acute sector I see the pressure first hand of cuts in funding. At the end of the financial year there have been directions that no cottage hospitals are to admit patients from the acute wards. Result: elderly patients waiting for rehab taking up acute, more expensive beds, more vulnerable to new infections being brought in daily by sick patients. This makes no financial sense at all! If this is as a result of money being directed to more high profile campaigns or to fund management consultants at PFIs than the elderly. Those without a voice are suffering.
Caroline Stevens, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Why did the Panorama programme not look at the price that the NHS pays for Herceptin? Isn't there an opportunity to negotiate the price from Roche against the increased volume of sales? Basically the programme did not explore the obvious question: why does Herceptin cost so much? Why was that?
Tom Hartley, Cambridge, Cambs
As a nurse in the NHS I am frustrated on an almost daily basis with patients coming into hospitals demanding treatments which are totally inappropriate for their condition because of an article in the paper or because they have read something on the internet. The NICE guidelines are there for a reason-they are there to safeguard the public and the NHS.
Patients that are demanding Herceptin seem to think that the drug is a miracle cure, which it is not. This goverments insistence on patient choice has gone too far.
Laura Chester, Harrow
Watched the Panorama programme on Herceptin what you are failing to address is the large profits made by drug companies like 'Roche' at the expense of the misery of women like those in Stoke once the patent on these drugs expires they can often be made for a fraction of the price in places like India? The Government needs to negotiate better prices with drug companies and the price should be the same in each country and not sold cheaper in other European countries like 'Beta Interferon' this is cheaper in France as a private patient than in the UK, why?
Beverley Pilbeam, Derby, UK
My friend and work colleague is paying privately for Herceptin as she did not have the time to wait for it to be made available. Many people have been fundraising in order to help her at this difficult time. After going through chemotherapy and radiotherapy why should she have this worry of finding the money for her treatment and trying to fight for her right to a life? The government needs to provide PCT's with extra funding for Herceptin. For anyone who questions whether or not people should be offered this drug, imagine if this situation was happening to someone close to you, would you question it then?
Karen Galvin, Swindon, Wilts
I feel desperately sorry for these poor women who are in a post code lottery. However, as a midwife I was always told to promote breast feeding to help immunise against this very problem. Not once on the programme was this subject related to. One lady has four children. Did she breast feed? If so, how long for? If she didn't, would breast feeding helped prevent the awful situation in which she now finds herself? If breast feeding is really the answer why is this not promoted more extensively in the maternity world? Why do we have to fund hugely expensive drugs if prevention would be better (and cheaper) than cure? The women in my care who were 'oh, I couldn't do that' when breast feeding was mentioned. What could be more natural, what are breasts for? I feel more research needs to be undertaken for women in general. Surely if this is the case the 'cure' is at hand - breastfeeding has to be promoted.
Susan Hubbard, Braintree, Essex
How come no-one is mentioning the social responsibility of Roche re the costs of this drug? Great opportunity for them to market themselves, as well as benefit humanity.
As I understand the American data, 50% of HER2+ women who receive Herceptin would not see a recurrence of their cancer. That is a cure by any other name. What the panel aren't saying is that for the other 50% who do see a terminal recurrence of the disease, their life will be prolonged indefinitely. My mother was given six months to live. Thanks to Herceptin she is still here 7 years later. This drug may not cure all her2+ women, but for the 50% it doesn't cure, it will benefit them in prolonging their life and giving them extra years with the people they love.
Rob Irving, Stoke On Trent
I am a 34-year-old male who suffers from primary progressive multiple sclerosis; I was refused the drug beta interferon on grounds of cost. This is a drug that has a high proven success rate in greatly improving quality of life for the sufferers of this disease, and yet because it is not a 'media friendly' condition I suffer from the money that could be spent on this treatment is spent on an unlicensed treatment which has a poor percentage rate of success. I understand the suffers are desperate for any treatment, but I think they should consider there are many other conditions equally as valid and equally as important as breast cancer sufferers.
Crispin Durand, London
I agree with the final comment by the doctor on the programme that it is society's decision about funding, though we still have to find a quicker way of making and processing those decisions. However, I have three related questions: (1)Why do these treatments cost so much, when drug companies make large profits? (2)Can a way be found to channel some of that profit into funding treatments? (3)When properly set up systems take so long to reach proper decisions, meanwhile cannot some of our exceptionally wealthy members of society help pay for exceptional treatments?
Cllr. Nigel Jones, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs.
No one seems to be telling us why the drug, Herceptin, costs so much. Is it Roche simply raking it in because they know they're onto a good thing? What makes a drug so expensive? According to Roche's website, in 2005 profit from continuing businesses increased by 2 billion Swiss francs or over 40%. Net income reached 6.7 billion Swiss francs. Is there not an ofmed, or something like that, that would ask questions of how they set their prices?
Jill Sutheran, Seahouses, Northumberland
It is not just a question of politics and funding - the fact is that Herceptin has not been licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency for use in early breast cancer. This may be because the manufacturer has not submitted an application for this, or it may be that an application is being processed. Either way, the doctor who prescribes a drug outside the specific terms of the product licence bears total responsibility for any adverse effects which may occur - the public is quick to say that new drugs which may save lives should be made available immediately, but equally quick to blame doctors and the pharmaceutical industry when a drug is shown to have potentially serious side-effects. You can't have it both ways!
Sara Barrow, Montesano, USA
I don't know who should make the decisions - I just know they have to be made. I have Breast cancer and had to fight to get Herceptin on the NHS, thankfully for my Son's sake I succeeded, after having to find the money for the first few myself - which wasn't easy as I'm a single parent (I ended up having to use the small amount of money my late Mother left for my Son and I when she died of Breast cancer 2 years ago) I understand these decisions are not easy but I need to be around for my Son. I've done everything I can- double mastectomy, chemo, radio. I am only 37; whoever has to pay it can't be my Son, he already lost his Grandma. The postcode lottery needs to stop though; it shouldn't just be those of us who can shout loudest that get Herceptin.
Every patient who is diagnosis with cancer should have a right to access to this drug. If a life can be saved with this drug, I don't understand why NHS can not provide it.
Brin Kasinathan, Harrow, London
No-one should have to make such decisions. We should all pay more National Insurance to cover the costs.
It could be you needing the drugs next!
cc park, London. UK
With regards to Elaine Barber who had such a struggle having to fight so hard for Herceptin I would like to make a very quick and clear point. I work within North Stoke PCT who are heavily in debt and this undoubtedly meant that Elaine had to fight very hard. But within the PCT it must be noted that money is not spent carefully. Recently we wanted to order USB memory sticks - 10 of them holding 512MB of memory. Within the PCT purchasing system (a list of companies which HAVE to be used) they are over £100 each but can be bought for £25 in Stoke itself. £75 x 10 means £750 of waste which could go towards treating people like Eileen. This is a point which really should be put to the panel on your programme but which people rarely see or hear about.
David W, Stoke-on-Trent
My sister-in-law (my husband's sister) found she had breast cancer in 2000. She had radical treatment and after one year she returned to work. A couple of months later she started walking into things and was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumour which is getting worse. Chemo and then chemo/Herceptin has been used to no effect. She was recently told that she had been a candidate for Herceptin from the time her breast cancer was diagnosed but had not been offered it and had not been told of it. She has had an operation on her brain to try to remove the tumour but some of it was left and now she is fighting to try anything to help her live. It is so devastating watching her get worse but in this case Herceptin could have helped and is no help now. It's all down to funding and intervention from government and it's not good enough.
Tina Hallett, Westbury, GB
I don't know if this drug should be made available on the NHS. My concern, as someone who has had breast cancer as a young woman, is why isn't more research being done into the causes of this disease? Why is this disease becoming more common in developed countries, while it is still low (as are other hormonally related cancers such as prostate cancer) in, for example, rural China? Does it have something to do with diet and consumption of dairy products in particular, as proposed by a scientist and someone who had breast cancer, Professor Jane Plant, in her book 'Your Life in Your Hands'? The cancer research industry is big business and if the causes were found to be linked to lifestyle, diet, etc. then prevention approaches wouldn't bring huge profits to drug companies. Yes I'm sceptical, because research has gone on for decades while all the time breast cancer rates rise. Research produces drugs that may help treat the problem but doesn't help identify the causes.
Jo Wheatley, Wivenhoe
It is the duty of every healthcare worker to do the best they can for there patients. If a Doctor thinks that a certain drug will help someone and they explain the risks associated with it, it should be prescribed. Cost can not be justified when every day we spend vast sums of money in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention the daily visitors to our shores who are here solely for free treatment by the NHS.
John, South Wales
If any drug (e.g. Herceptin) is available at all, it should be available to anyone who needs it, not just to the select few who happen to live in particular areas. Yes, it's expensive, but the Government wastes more than enough money day in, day out, to cover the cost. The Dome, a certain Lord's wallpaper at £450/roll and, of course, the 'continuing' war in Iraq - not to mention the forthcoming Olympics - are all higher on the Government's agenda than the health of its ordinary taxpayers.
Lynne Chapman, Devon, UK
I understand that Herceptin is the drug being debated but i would like to know why? All the millions of pounds donated by the ordinary people of/in the UK to Cancer Research is used to produce some of these wonder drugs that will fight Cancer and when they are perfected and usable, only the very rich can afford to buy them.
Henry Berg, Blyth, Northumberland.
Like many other women in this country, I was diagnosed with early breast cancer, I have had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the cancer at diagnosis had spread to the lymph nodes. I am a suitable candidate for treatment with the drug Herceptin. However no one knows if the drug will actually work for me, each person is different; there could be side effects from the drug which could cause cardiac problems although I understand the incidence of this may be influenced by the administration of chemotherapy at the same time. At the present time Herceptin is available to some patients with secondary illness (again a postcode lottery).
The drug Herceptin was discovered in 1987, research has been progressing for many years. I find it difficult to understand the concept, why carry out all this research and allow the drug to reach stage three of a clinical trial, if it will not be available for the people who need it? Everyone knew the drug would be expensive and the demand high. It is sad that some people have been given the drug while thousands of other just as needy sufferers were not. However, the clinical trial is not complete, data has still to be collected, the follow up period may need to be longer, but in spite of all these things the prospects look good: A drug which can help suffering and prolong life, life is worth living. Last April I was informed that I could not have Herceptin as the disease had not spread to lungs bones or liver. Since this decision was made everything has changed, Patricia Hewitt has intervened. At my last appointment (January 2006), I was informed that Herceptin would be available in a few months' time. I would pay for this drug; just imagine the cancer may never return, £21000 and I could live my dreams.
Hilary Innes, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire
At the beginning of the NHS, the previously untreated people's demand for care was likened to "Cascades of medicines pouring down peoples' throats". So what's new?
Diana Fussell, UK
Situations like these are never win-win. If a woman is given Herceptin, someone else will not get a treatment they need. It's hard to know who should make these decisions, especially since the evidence-base for many new therapies is so poor. I do know, however, that they shouldn't be made on the basis of a media outcry - and that the health secretary shouldn't interfere. Breast cancer can be a tragedy for a woman and her family - but so can many other diseases. It's time to put things in perspective.
Jayne Sullivan is at the National Assembly of Wales on a sit-in as this programme goes out. She is a breast cancer sufferer and is protesting that some parts of Wales will be entitled to the drug and some parts won't.
I think that if the NHS can afford to fund cosmetic operations then it cannot expect people to sit quietly when they have life threatening ailments and means (but maybe not the money) exists to treat those maladies.
Alex Bischuk, Onchan, Isle of Man
Matt Munro - check the Board of NICE, as listed on their website - as you can see, it is over 50% male.
It is a sad fact of life that there is a cost to everything, the NHS is no different. If we want good health care we have to pay for it. However the current format of the NHS has had its day, the National Health Service is more like the World Health Service, we have people coming to this country primarily to get access to the NHS. As harsh as it is, you have to say NO. If we have to choose who gets treatment, then the people who have contributed to this country should be given all Treatments. Those that are Health Tourists, send them home!
The only fair way to decide which treatments are offered by the NHS is for an arm's length independent body to do it. This is what already happens. Whether people like it or not, health care is rationed. Think of it this way, when is the NHS's job complete? When everyone is in perfect health? That is impossible due to resource constraints and will never happen. The NICE body acts to regulate what we can and cannot afford and use our limited resources to attain maximum benefit. Rather this system than one in other countries where they do not even consider the expensive drugs!
Jonathan, Lancaster, England
It is obscene to deny or delay giving effective drugs to patients with serious and life-threatening conditions for reasons of cost. NICE often plays this role with expensive drugs and is becoming increasingly discredited. I suggest we approach the problem in a different way. Why doesn't the Government tackle the issue of the cost of drugs head on? It already has price regulation agreements with the pharmaceutical industry, but for some reason, companies are allowed to set their own prices for new drugs.
There needs to be some debate about what would be reasonable. But if prices of drugs are set at a level where even rich countries cannot afford them and allow their citizens to suffer and die unnecessarily instead, the price is too high. The NHS wastes millions on ineffective schemes and unnecessary bureaucracy, which could be redirected into funding new effective drugs. I, for one, don't feel guilty about having fought for herceptin. Having worked for the NHS, I have seen the waste of money that occurs.
Jill Waterson, Watford, Herts
It is essential to understand that resources have to be 'rationed' in the NHS as there simply isn't anywhere near enough money to treat every patient in the best, quickest and most high-tech way. Someone somewhere has to make decisions as to who gets what and there will always be people who disagree with decisions taken. The arguments of women suffering terribly with breast cancer are truly compelling but we must maintain calm and reason when deciding who should 'pay' for these expensive drugs. Those who 'pay' will likely do so with their own health or even their lives. Examples of right and wrong are very hard to identify in these difficult problems.
Dr Daniel A West, London, UK
When you buy a second hand car, you expect to get a warranty. They are of two types. The first lists all the things that are covered, and may look impressively long. The second only lists what you are not covered for (wear and tear items like brakes, clutches etc.). The second is clearly superior from the owner's point of view, but could be costly for the insurance provider. If the NHS is not to collapse as a consequence of runaway costs, I suggest that the first model is appropriate, even if it runs to thousands of pages in listing all the approved drugs, surgical procedures etc. I'm sure that private medical insurance would work on that prudent basis. The task of assembling and updating the approved items clearly needs to be a collaborative exercise involving health professionals and, sadly but realistically, cost accountants also.
Colin Berry, Antibes, France
If the Doctors recommend that a particular drug will be the most effective treatment, then it should be prescribed, and prescribed at whatever stage, in their clinical judgment, will be most effective.
Everyone who needs the treatment should get the medicine without any discriminating as to where they live in the UK.
Arshad Mohamed, Southall, London
If we all want to take advantage of expensive new treatments then there is only one solution - we must agree to pay more taxes. It is all very well to complain that expensive treatments are not available but you must remember that your desire to pay less income tax has caused this problem. Without an increase in tax then decisions on treatments will always be made in the context of financial constraints - and inevitably people will die as a consequence.
Prioritisation should take place but not rationing. Cancer has been a threat to humans forever. We spend millions on treatments aimed at life style induced ailments, obesity drug addiction, alcohol related accidents and violence and even hangover cures. To consider rationing investment into improving the way we treat this disease or indeed research is dreadful. Not to invest in cancer is an option for naive and somewhat lucky people who have as yet not lost someone or indeed suffered themselves, from this dreadful disease.
Bruce Gilligan, Wraysbury
Our daughter is on Herceptin for her breast cancer, it is a smart drug medication that flags a protein molecule so that the immune system cannot otherwise see it to attack it. At least 50% of patients with this protein problem have succeeded in their efforts to become free of the cancer. But the public health plan officials want to ration health care since they want keep the costs down. This brings untimely deaths in an age when people can be cured. So which do you want, your money or your health?
Keith Dearing, Sorrento, BC, Canada
The NHS is now run mostly by accountants and MBA graduates and managers may have their own idea of who should get what treatment whether it is expensive cancer treatment or hip operation for that matter. A doctor who is not controlled by his managers should make the decisions on how and who should get a particular treatment.
Vijay K Vijayaratnam, UK
There is no decision to make. If someone needs the treatment then it should be given. I would say, however, that treatment should be limited to British citizens to stop people coming to this country for treatment from elsewhere unless they pay for it themselves.
Simon Bailey, Notts, UK
My son had a spinal tumour only found by a privately paid-for MRI scan because the NHS said MRIs were too expensive to do. I thought it was the credo of the medical profession to do everything possible to sustain human life, to cure people, to help people. Unfortunately, in this country you don't get what you pay for, you get a lot less and it needs to stop.
NHS funding is already hugely imbalanced with far more invested in women's than men's health. Any body which decides on funding priorities should be 50% male and decisions should be made on the basis of clinical judgements, not a politically correct "women and children first" agenda.
Matt Munro, Bristol, UK
I work in Stoke, and was invited to sign a petition in support of the women who wished to be prescribed herceptin. I asked to make a donation to assist in funding the supply, but the campaigners refused it. Bizarre! In answer to your question: I think medical professionals should make the decisions based on the needs of the patient who has consulted them.
Megan, Cheshire, UK
It would be good if we had a special group to determine whether or not a treatment is cost effective and should be offered by the NHS. Oh, wait a minute, we do. NICE compares different treatments to see which give value for money, which is the bottom line in an organisation with limited resources. We as taxpayers pay them to do this to make sure our taxes are spent efficiently - we should let them do their job.
The NHS should never deny any treatment which could possibly lead to a complete cure. We do not elect to join the NHS - it is imposed upon us and money is deducted from our salaries to fund the NHS whether we like it or not. What is the point if we are then ultimately denied treatment? If health authorities have insufficient funds then obviously the government has miscalculated what they need. If the government has not miscalculated then the under funding is deliberate! It is easy to see why the healthcare provided by the NHS is 23rd on the world league tables - France is first, I believe.
When are we going to accept that the NHS has reached the end of its useful life as a universal provider of free, state-of-the-art medicine? As life-expectancy increases and treatments become more sophisticated it has fewer contributors and more demands than at any time in its history. This is not the 1930's any more. 'Ordinary' working class people think nothing of spending huge amounts of money every month on satellite TV or mobile phones so why not health insurance? Privatise the lot, safety-net the needy and we'll get decent healthcare without the risks of budgetary constraints.
L H Kirby, St Albans, UK
I understand that the NHS is at the frontline of UK Politics. But should we be playing politics with people's health? The funds going into the NHS is not limitless. Hence I think there should be sensible prioritization by the frontline staff. So far the way that is done is not helpful. That is why we read of hospital cancelling operations in order to meet the targets set by the Politicians. The NHS might well need some directions but please take it out of politics.
Prioritisation should take place but not rationing. Cancer has been a threat to humans forever. We spend millions on treatments aimed at life style induced ailments, obesity drug addiction, alcohol related accidents and violence and even hangover cures etc. To consider rationing investment into improving the way we treat this disease or indeed research it is dreadful.
Bruce Gilligan, Wraysbury