News of a Department of Health consultation, which involves asking the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to consider “wider societal benefits” (in addition to the burden of illness and the impact a disease has on patients) when approving new drugs, has led to media speculation that vulnerable groups such as the elderly could be deprived treatments available to more economically active citizens.
These fears of older people missing-out on new / expensive treatments because they may be assessed as not to contributing sufficiently to society have been dismissed as scaremongering. Such age discrimination would run counter to the NHS Constitution.
NICE drugs policy for the elderly is unchanged. London: NHS Choices Behind the Headlines, February 18th 2014.