Our strange ideas about drugs

So at last the National Centre for Clinical Excellence has recommended that a new class of breast cancer drugs be allowed on the NHS. This news has taken a long time in coming. There has been some clinical trials that have shown the benefits of these newer and more expensive drugs for years.

What I find interesting is how aromatase inhibitors have been treated differently to Herceptin. The latter was hailed as a wonder drug. Tens of patients have been campaigning for their 'life-saving' drug. There has been a massive media campaign.

Yet arguably, aromotase inhibitors will save many more lives. The Daily Mail said they'd save 1000 lives a year in the UK. Of course, unlike Herceptin they are not based on the wonders of genetic manipulation. And they are only an improvement of an existing sort of drug - Tamoxifen has been working in a roughly similar way for twenty years. And as a consequence, they have sort of given a lower priority.

Its little wonder that patients find it so difficult to navigate the treatment choices - when the coverage in the newspapers is so lopsided.