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Primary care trusts must “challenge the fiction of the wonder drug”

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 06 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1970
  1. Lisa Hitchen
  1. 1London

    Primary care trusts need to “challenge the fiction of the wonder drug,” a conference on the organisation of the NHS was told last week.

    Sophia Christie, chief executive of Birmingham East and North Primary Care Trust, said, “This fiction is a really dangerous one that we need a more sophisticated understanding of.” Media headlines describe some drugs as “lifesaving treatments,” when they often prolonged survival only for a number of weeks.

    Many patients did not understand the numbers, she told the conference held at the Royal College of Physicians, and commissioning should not be driven by the demands of patients and clinicians. Giving patients these products only delayed discussions with patients about end of life care, an issue that, she said, needs an open debate and radical change.

    Ninety per cent of healthcare spending goes on …

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