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The price isn't right

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 18 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:407
  1. Andrew Dyson, consultant anaesthetist (
  1. King's Mill Centre for Healthcare Services

    As practising doctors we both knew the diagnosis. But there is still a seismic shock to the soul when the words multiple sclerosis pass the neurologist's lips. My wife's mildly inconvenient limp had suddenly become a life sentence of wondering what terror each new day would bring, and a sense of loss of one's future, not unlike a bereavement.

    Why does a drug that costs £6000 in Australia cost £13 800 in the UK?

    A few days later we went on holiday. The limp was no worse and we needed time to think. We decided to try to carry on as normal for as long as possible, my wife as part time specialist registrar in microbiology and myself as a consultant anaesthetist. Our two children were too young to understand any implications.

    Stupidly, we thought that some form of treatment would be available, certainly physiotherapy, possibly interferon. In fact, physiotherapy took many weeks to arrive. As for interferon, neither of us was keen. We read about the trials, we learned of the side effects, and we thought that perhaps …

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