The Real Story

Your money or your life

Real People - - CONTENT -

‘How much is my life worth?’

That’s the har­row­ing ques­tion tor­tur­ing the minds of thou­sands of peo­ple with a ter­mi­nal ill­ness.

Peo­ple like 49-year-old Deb­bie Hall, who is dy­ing of can­cer.

Should she sell her house and car, leav­ing noth­ing to her son, for the chance to see one more pre­cious Christ­mas with him and her young grand­daugh­ter?

And in the 70th an­niver­sary year of the NHS, why – when we have a pub­licly funded health ser­vice – should Deb­bie be go­ing through this tor­ment?

‘It doesn’t have a bot­tom­less pit of money,’ says Diar­maid Mcdon­ald of cam­paign group Just Treatment. ‘The drug com­pa­nies that charge sky-high prices are to blame, as is the Govern­ment that lets them get away with it.’

If a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany has the pa­tent on a drug and a mo­nop­oly on man­u­fac­ture, it can name its price.

‘In the devel­op­ment of new med­i­ca­tions, most fail and suc­cess­ful drugs can take 12 years to come to mar­ket,’ says Richard Tor­bett of The As­so­ci­a­tion of the Bri­tish Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal In­dus­try. That’s a huge amount of money.

‘I’m not say­ing any price is jus­ti­fied. But if new med­i­ca­tion gives lots of extra qual­ity of life, it’s im­por­tant to be re­warded for years of re­search and in­vest­ment.’

Here, Lind­say Calder asks why some peo­ple are now crowd­fund­ing for their lives…

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