Ruling on interferon beta will hit all health authorities

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 19 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:143
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    North Derbyshire Health Authority acted unlawfully in denying a patient with multiple sclerosis treatment with interferon beta, a High Court judge ruled last week. The landmark judgment has ramifications for cash-strapped health authorities throughout Britain and will boost the case for a separate NHS fund to pay for expensive new drugs coming on the market as a result of biotechnological advances.

    Mr Justice Dyson said that the health authority had knowingly imposed what was in effect a blanket ban on the use of the drug, despite guidance in an NHS circular on making it available through hospitals. “A blanket ban was the very antithesis of national policy, …

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