BBC News off topic: I was watching the health... - Thyroid UK

Thyroid UK
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BBC News off topic


I was watching the health section of the BBC News yesterday and read an interesting bit regarding the drug Lucentis. 12 northern NHS doctors are now using a cheaper version and so had been taken to the High Court by Bayer and Novatis. The NHS WON they case being allowed to use the cheaper version which can now save the NHS millions. This cheaper version is not licenced here in England but is used around the world in the US for Wet age related macular regeneration as have these 12 trusts.

Cheaper versions of the T3 could now be used by the NHS so what is stopping them.

It creates a parallel

16 Replies

We really need to read the full judgement before arriving at any conclusions

On first reading the cases are different in that the what was off licence in the UK was on licence in Europe and else where.

The drug companies wanted to keep it off licence so that the NHS had to pay for the more expensive alternative.

In T3’s case PresQIPP want us to use T4 because the drug companies have increased the price by ~8000% for no reason other than greed.

There is NO alternative to T3 which PresQIPP don’t understand

Further the NHS seem bureaucratically incapable of sourcing cheaper T3 from other suppliers.

I suspect that CCGs May use this case to justify swapping T3 for T4 BUT the cases are different

Sorry for not being perfect there are many on this site that are, they are lucky.

Sorry if you think I’m being picky

You are absolutely right to pick on this important ruling


in reply to Bunnyjean

For others who are unclear about the machinations regarding this cheaper drug it may be informative to read this link: - sorry seems link not working but this is an extract -.

"More than a decade ago, doctors realised Avastin, a drug licensed for cancer, might also work to treat eye conditions when used "off-label". This is a term used when a drug has a licence to treat something else.

Publicly-funded clinical trials across the world - including one done and paid for by the NHS - have shown Avastin does give just as good results when it is split into the tiny doses needed to inject into the back of the eye.

At the heart of the issue is the fact that the company that owns the rights to Avastin, Roche, has never sought a licence to market it for eye conditions - only some types of cancer

To complicate matters, Lucentis is derived from the same molecule as Avastin. Roche holds the intellectual property rights for both - Novartis licenses it from them.

Back in 2007, Tory MP George Young said that publicly-funded trials would "provide good evidence that would allow regulators such as NICE to recommend the use of Avastin over Lucentis and save the NHS a considerable amount of money".

Indeed, one health economist has estimated for the BBC that if the NHS had made the switch to Avastin a decade ago, it could have saved between £2-3bn.

Anti-competitive behaviour

Over the years, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists has argued that patients should be offered Avastin to help save the NHS money.

But patients haven't been offered that choice. A series of investigations by the British Medical Journal found that doctors had been deterred from prescribing it through a combination of legal threats, misinformation, anti-competitive behaviour and lobbying.

Similar debates have been going on throughout Europe, but in America, Avastin is routinely used.

Earlier this year, the European courts found Roche and Novartis guilty of anti-competitive behaviour for their attempts to restrict use of Avastin. They've also been reprimanded in Italy for frightening doctors about the harms of Avastin in a series of scientific articles and conference publications."

Surely this business does raise pertinent points about sourcing drugs from other places, especially when the NHS is so short of funds.

There's never been anything to stop the NHS from sourcing cheaper T3. They just don't want to do it.

in reply to greygoose

Why do you think that is GG (money) ?

in reply to Bunnyjean

I've no idea. But, there's money in it somewhere, for someone, that's for sure.

It may be that the cheaper versions of T3 are not licensed here but whether that will lead CCGs to order.....

One of the Pharma companies is considering an appeal.

The thing is that the cheaper version that these twelve health authorities are using is still not licensed for the use in the treatment of eyes and they have been vindicated.

Who know we can only try and hope that they come to there senses.


I think the problem here is not necessary cost but the fact the eye injection is not licensed for AMD. It's actually a licensed drug for the treatment of lung cancer in the UK but the fact that it is so cheap as a treatment for AMD is justified now. The cost of the injection is £28 per injection whereas the licensed injections can cost between £500 and £800 each. This is very expensive when a person needing the injections has to have them every few weeks to prevent blindness. I have two retired friends with AMD that need the injections every 6 weeks and it costs nearly £1000 every time, and they've been told this to them by their specialist at our local hospital. It's a massive saving for my local hospital just for 2 patients so I wonder how much money in total would be saved? This could be diverted into other eye health conditions and help more and more people.

TT x

My mother had these injections a good few years ago and they were expensive. My point was this, these 12 health authorities were using a drug which was not licensed for the eye. They were then taken to court by two of the largest drug companies and won their case, opening up for others to follow. The NHS should get it's business in order and be more accountable, thank goodness we have 12 NHS experts in the North of England prepared to do battle and offer a much less expensive treatment but one that works.

Bayer is on the back foot now, good, as it bought Monsanto which is being sued in the US for millions of dollars for causing health problems.

We need our T3 this is important for many on this site.

For those who are interested, the full judgement of the case is here

Great, thank you It should be an interesting read.

I have started and even the Judge apologised for the long judgement. I find that these judgements highlight many pieces of legislation and case law that most of us are not aware of. I haven't seen the dead hand of PrescQIPP yet, but i have seen NICE guidance and technical advice quoted. This makes me realise the importance of groups such as Thyroid UK producing our own "statements" that can be used to counter the BTA statement in cases like these and all the way along to the consulting room.


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