Drug debate enters U.K. election

Drug finance is becoming an election issue in the U.K. this year. The Liberal Democrats are backing a plan that would change National Health Service rules to allow patients to pay for drugs that the government won't finance. Now, the rules say patients who choose to foot the bill for expensive meds also have to pay for the rest of their treatment, too.

As you know, there's been increasingly heated debate in the U.K. as the National Institute for Clinical Excellence has rejected one costly cancer treatment after another. The drugs aren't cost-effective, the rationing agency has said. An outcry from patients and their advocates ensued.

Allowing patients to pay for their own expensive meds might be an effective work-around for those who can afford it. But patients who can't come up with thousands of dollars for their meds would be out of luck. And experts say the NHS would melt down if it had to spend the $100 billion-plus necessary for those rejected drugs.

- read the story in The Times
- see The Mail's article