Monday, 12 April 2010

The Mail is not nice to NICE

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has publicly rebuked the Daily Mail for spreading information that is:

factually inaccurate.

In Victim of a broken promise: Mother, 37, forced to sell her home to buy cancer drugs Labour pledged to fund, Daniel Martin and Christian Gysin told the story of Nikki Phelps, whose local PCT wouldn't fund a drug, Sutent, to treat her 'rare glandular cancer'.

The Mail, which dismisses NICE as a:

rationing body

goes on to say:

West Kent primary care trust refused - because NICE has not specifically approved the drug for her type of cancer.

It adds:

Labour ministers promised more than a year ago to give sufferers of rare cancers easier access to life-extending drugs.

But the rationing body NICE has since refused to approve ten such drugs. Experts say the rulings cut short up to 20,000 lives.

They even produce a little table which shows 15 (rather than ten) cancer drugs that they claim NICE have 'refused to approve':

Not so, says NICE. Its Chairman, Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, responded by writing to Mail Editor Paul Dacre, and the health spokesmen of the three main political parties, stating:

I have no knowledge of Mrs Phelp’s circumstances but Sutent, for this indication, has never been referred to us for appraisal and has no Marketing Authorisation for this indication.

So when the Mail said NICE hadn't approved the drug for Mrs Phelps' type of cancer, it's because they hadn't been asked to - which the Mail admits towards the very end of the article.

Rawlins goes on:

The Daily Mail, in the same article, also states that that 'NICE has delivered 15 rejections of cancer treatments in the past 18 months' and provides a list. This list is factually inaccurate.

He goes on to show what NICE has actually said in each of the cases, concluding:

In summary, of the 15 products allegedly rejected by NICE:

* 10 were recommended
* 4 were rejected
* 1 no appraisal has been published.

And the last of those is currently under review.

Eventhough NICE's clarification has been public since 9 April, the Mail's article has not been removed or updated to reflect their denials about the 'refused' drugs.

So will the Mail admit the error and correct the record? Or will they continue to push 'factually inaccurate' information about cancer drugs?

(Hat-tip to mr_wonderful at the Mailwatch Forum)


  1. Strangely the Daily Mail is no longer accepting comments on this article, possibly because they're now all pointing out that it's a bunch of lies...

  2. Isn't blatantly lying like this against the PCC code of practice? No way they can fob this off as an 'opinion piece' so I can't see how they could worm themselves out of it. Despite all its faults, I'd love to see NICE take the Mail to the cleaners on this one.

  3. Vicki Carpenter14 April 2010 at 16:43

    I would just like to say that whatever the factual inaccuracies of the article in the Daily Mail, Nikki Phelps has been refused her cancer treatment and this is factually correct. I think that what Nikki and her family have had to endure is beyond belief and this response from the chairman of NICE does not deter from the fact that the PCT will just let her die and if a few inaccuracies in an article are all he has to endure then lucky him!


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