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The political power of cancer

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c2250 (Published 26 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2250
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

    David Cameron plumped for cancer drugs in his election campaign for a reason. Nigel Hawkes explores the background to the promise to improve access to end of life treatments

    To rally the faithful it’s never a bad idea for a Tory leader to champion an idea nurtured by the Daily Mail—but without necessarily admitting it. David Cameron’s promise to fund cancer treatments given at the end of life without regard to measures of cost effectiveness tapped into that newspaper’s hatred of the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and its readiness to spring to the aid of patients who find themselves on the wrong side of a NICE judgment.

    But why cancer and not Alzheimer’s disease or mental illness? Dan Wellings, head of public health and social marketing at the survey research company Ipsos-MORI, said, “When we ask questions about the biggest health problems facing people today, cancer tops the list,” he says. “It’s above obesity, it’s above diabetes, and it’s above mental health by a long, long way. That’s what politicians recognise.”

    The Conservative party’s position on anticancer drugs is that too few patients in the UK are getting them in comparison with those in similar countries …

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