Thursday, 18 August 2011

Media coverage of NICE

Is a constant source of mystery to me

On Wednesday 17th August, NICE placed its ACD guidance on dabigatran for atrial fibrillation on its website.  So far as I can tell no national media organization covered the story at all.  That may be a good thing – I am not an advocate of NICE bashing (except when they deserve it, obviously).  But how do you explain zero interest, none, nil, zilch, zip?

It could be that atrial fibrillation is in public’s consciousness (I bet it doesn’t feature on many people’s ‘top ten most feared diseases’) but it does lead to stroke and ‘bleed-on-the-brain’ (intracranial haemorrhage) which most people could easily relate to.  NICE vetoes ‘stroke hope’ drug” seems a plausible headline to me.

If we’re talking about obvious ‘human interest’ angles to make this story about numbers seem more interesting there is the fact that the current treatment is warfarin, famously also used as rat poison.  Headline:  NICE saves money by making patients eat rat poison”.

It can’t be that it’s not important: given the number of people with atrial fibrillation the budget impact of this medicine could run into hundreds of millions, money which the NHS doesn’t have to spare at the moment.  Headline: “£2.52 per day ‘unaffordable’ for stroke drug”.

Is every health correspondent on holiday at the same time?  Is it because no patient group has issued a press release?  Or has “NICE fatigue” set in, as newsdesk have their full of riots, phone-hacking, and global economic crisis?

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