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Friday, May 3, 2013

The ethics of (highly) expensive medication

These days, a big debate is going on in our country. There is a young kid, Viktor, who suffers from an extremely rare disease. The only cure for it is a medication that costs 18,000 Euro per treatment. Viktor needs at least two treatments a month.

Now there is a lot of talk about the costs of this treatment. The national health service pays the parents the costs back so far, but the advisors of the minister of health say the return payments should be stopped, as it costs too much. With this money, lots of other patient could be helped, they claim.

The parents of the kid are desperate. They are willing to sell their house, but it will only pay a number of treatments. Neighbors and people who feel sorry for Viktor begin to drop envelopes with money in their postal box.

Etienne Vermeersch, professor in Ethics, says it is probably right that the government should spend its money on the biggest number of patients. And that the parents of the kid should accept charity.

Laurette Oncelincks, minister of Health, is asking the company which produces the medicin to lower its prices. But they claim it has cost them too many millions to develop the drug - which only a couple of people need, so it will stay expensive.

This is highly sensitive matter, and I would not wish to be the parent of such a kid. It must be heartbreaking to wait for news and to know that if the treatment can't be paid any longer, your kid dies...

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