This week the panel discusses the case of Richard, who is in his early fifties and has colon cancer. He's read about a new drug called Avastin in the newspapers which could prolong his life by five months.
The treatment costs £18,500 per patient and isn't available on the NHS. The local primary care trust could fund the drug if Richard is an 'exceptional' case. But what makes someone exceptional?
Avastin needs to be delivered intravenously alongside standard chemotherapy. Another option is for Richard to buy the drug privately, but have it administered on the NHS. Is this 'mixed provision' of private and public healthcare ethical?
- Should GPs and specialists tell their patients about treatments that aren't available on the NHS?
- How do PCTs decide which patients to fund?
- How can you weigh up ethics against economics?
- What effect has the recent Herceptin judgement had on funding decisions?
- If Richard buys the drug privately but has it delivered on the NHS, is this ethical?
- Dr Deborah Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics at St George's Hospital Medical School
- Charles Foster, a Barrister specialising in Medical Law
- Dr Ann Slowther, a GP and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Ethics at Warwick University 's Medical School