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QALY raises questionable drivers

20th May 2013

On Monday I was at the EMIG (Ethical Medicines Industry Group) quarterly meeting. At the meeting there were several presenters, these included an individual speaking to the difficulties of gaining treatment for rare diseases and a prior government advisor on health.

Currently health improvement is measured by QALY’s (Quality Adjusted Life Year). This is straightforward enough in principle, i.e. how much is a “health intervention” going to improve a persons life and for how many years.

For me this model does raise some questionable drivers e.g. because on average women live longer than men the QALY assessment would be to invest more money in women than men, a consequence of this would be that the life expectancy gap would increase.

Another example is rare diseases; because this may affect 1 person in ½ a million, the cost of developing a “health intervention” is so expensive per person that the “health intervention” would be deemed too expensive to be financed by the NHS.

It is my view that we need to value quality of life much more highly in the early years, as such much more money is focused on getting us all with a high quality of health to retirement than more of us living to a very old age, this move would help both of the examples.

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