THE PRICE OF LIFE
On a finite budget, the National Health Service can't afford to offer patients every treatment on the market, so how does the nation decide which patients should be the winners – and who should be the losers? BBC Two has secured exclusive and unprecedented access to NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), the controversial body that decides which drug treatments the NHS can afford. Its judgements have precipitated many bitter battles over the last decade but, for many, the people behind the process remain shrouded in mystery.
Focusing on cancer drug Revlimid, award-winning documentary-maker Adam Wishart follows those who must decide whether to approve the drug and those who will be affected by the outcome. They are: Professor David Barnett, chairman of the NICE appraisals committee, charged with assessing its effectiveness; cancer patients including Julia Gatt and Eric Rutherford, whose lives depend on the decision; Sol Barer, head of the American drug company that discovered Revlimid and profits from it; and NHS manager Sophia Christie, who has to deal with the financial consequences of the committee's decision.
The programme tells the compelling story of the people whose everyday lives are affected by this intricate process. Will Julia and Eric get the drug they need and, if so, will Sophia be forced to make cuts to her budget in other areas? The very human conflicts that arise open up for debate a bigger moral question – how much is life worth, and how much should society pay?
Nominated for the Grierson Award
'Adam Wishart's extraordinary, engrossing film deserves a prize.' Radio Times
'deeply affecting... unsettling but vital and grimly fascinating' Mail on Sunday
'The documentary of the week' The Independent
'a fine if sombre film' Time Out
'balanced and thought-provoking' The Times
'Fascinating documentary' TV Times
Listen to the debate on Start the Week.