Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Do You Get For £1.2bn These Days?

I'm pleased to see Lib Dems like Roger Williams raising huge question marks over the government using Philip Green as an advisor:

Roger Williams, Lib Dem MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, said that while Green was "very capable", the reports of his tax arrangements should be "looked at" by HMRC and the Treasury.

"We are very keen that artificial arrangements are minimised," he told the Guardian today.

The paper points out that:

Green, known for partying with model Kate Moss and X Factor svengali Simon Cowell, as well as his business acumen, banked the biggest pay cheque in corporate history in 2005 when his Arcadia fashion business, which owns Topshop, paid a £1.2bn dividend. The record-breaking payment was paid to his wife, Tina, who lives in Monaco and is the direct owner of Arcadia. As a result, no UK income tax was due.

£1.2bn? What does that buy nowadays? Looking around the Guardian website, I found something that nearly matched up:

Avastin prolongs life but drug is too expensive for NHS patients, says Nice

Campaigners last night criticised the health watchdog after it ruled that a drug was too expensive to be prescribed on the NHS – despite evidence that it can prolong life in bowel cancer patients.

Avastin (bevacizumab) can help patients with advanced bowel cancer which has spread to other organs, usually the liver and lungs.

It is the standard treatment for the illness in many countries around the world, and is currently being trialled for use in other cancers, including melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) said it had considered the drug, including a risk-sharing scheme from the manufacturer Roche, but still considered the price too high for the extra benefit it gives patients.

Avastin costs almost £21,000 per patient and an estimated 6,500 people per year could be eligible for the drug.

The efficacy isn't fantastic - it only adds an average extra 6 weeks to life expectancy, but it can do better than that:

A teacher diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer today said she was extremely disappointed the health watchdog has turned down a "life-saving" drug for use on the NHS.

Barbara Moss, 55, (below) said she was "living proof" that Avastin works.

In November 2006, she was given three months to live after doctors discovered the cancer had spread to her liver. After two treatments of Avastin, her grapefruit-sized tumour shrank to half its size and she could have surgery. She has been in remission for 18 months.

I note that £20,800 x 6500 = £1.35 billion .

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