Rawlins: Take trusts to court for prescribing habits

 NICE chairman Professor Sir Michael Rawlins has said patients should sue their local health trust if they are not receiving the most effective recommended drugs.

The head of the Government’s Medicines Advisory Board believes that trusts are making illegal decisions when failing to prescribe expensive treatments as a result of current economic pressures.

Speaking to the Financial Times he said he wished a patient organisation would take a Trust to court for “failing to comply” with prescribing instructions.

Professor Rawlins also defended NICE’s record for recommending expensive new treatments on the grounds of cost-effectiveness. He insisted that the majority of the Institute’s recommendations were actually in favour of prescription and pointed towards other bodies which prevent the use of expensive treatments.

Sir Michael pointed the finger at local lists of approved treatments across the NHS which “second-guess” the advice given by NICE and in some cases ignore its recommendations.

The NICE chairman, who was recently reappointed for a further year until March 2013, deflected criticism from patient groups – which are often backed by pharma companies – that attack the Institute for not recommending the use of expensive new treatments. Sir Michael insisted that any criticism should be directed at pharma companies for the high prices they charge for new treatments.