The Price of Life, Cost vs. Benefit (Britain's NICE Program)

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Omai
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The Price of Life, Cost vs. Benefit (Britain's NICE Program)

Who should decide whether a certain drug is available? NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) weighs the cost of a drug versus the benefit to the patient (e.g. improved quality of life) to decide if the drug will be available to British citizens. (NICE makes for a very interesting acronym). In some cases, this is forcing drug companies to lower their prices. But is it ethical to tell someone dying of cancer, that a drug that can help them is too expensive for the country to buy? What does this mean for US drug policy?
Here is a disturbing quote:

"But the most pressing question for the industry is what influence the British institute will have in the United States. The United States already spends more than twice as much per capita on health care as the average of other industrialized nations, while getting generally poorer health outcomes."

Can a system like NICE help here or in other countries?

Here is the article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/health/03nice.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

A difficult ethical problem.
I'd love to hear what people think

Omai