Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Saving money and lives

I was delighted to see on the bbc news today that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the NHS watchdog which amongst other things determines the cost-effectiveness of prescription drugs, is calling for trans-fats to be banned from food in England and is pressing for further reductions in salt and saturated fats, to help prevent deaths from cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of death in the UK and experts who worked on the report estimate that 40,000 of the 150,000 annual deaths from cardiovascular disease are "eminently preventable". They also came to the conclusion that by requiring food manufacturers to reduce salt and saturated fats and eliminate trans-fats from their foods, the consequent reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease could save the NHS more than £1bn.

Yes that's right, one billion pounds - not an amount to be sniffed at particularly in the current climate, and this amount could be saved by getting the population to eat healthier and that's without them even having to do anything - the food manufacturers would be required to make the changes.

I'm delighted that NICE has done this report, although these are guidelines so may not be put into effect. However it's the fact they are looking at the cost-effectiveness of nutrition in healthcare, rather than just drugs, and the benefits of a preventative approach to medicine.

I hope NICE continue to look into the cost-effectiveness of nutrition and preventative approaches to healthy - I'm sure vast sums could be saved through targeted supplementation and encouraging lifestyle and dietary changes in patients before serious symptoms present.

Vitamins and minerals are natural so can't be patented making them cheap relative to (particularly new) drugs. Sadly this means that there isn't much money to be made selling vitamins and so the budget spent researching them and promoting their usage is tiny in comparison to the amount of money the pharma companies use to promote and lobby for their drugs to be prescribed by doctors. Hopefully this report will help shine some well needed light on the benefits of nutrition in healthcare.

For those interested here's the bbc article:


No comments:

Post a Comment