Families lose haemophilia battle

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The Independent Online
Four haemophiliac boys yesterday lost their fight in the High Court to try to force health authorities to fund treatment which is generally considered most effective by doctors.

The judge, Mr Justice Jowitt, rejected claims by the families of the boys that three North West health authorities had unlawfully imposed a blanket ban on funding treatment with an expensive blood-clotting agent because of the cost.

In what was believed to be the first case of its kind, the boys were taking action against three health authorities after they decided that they would no longer be treated with a purer, artificial form of the clotting agent Factor VIII, but a cheaper plasma-derived version which carries a higher risk of viral infection.

The judge said he could see "no useful purpose" in granting the families permission to challenge the decisions by South Lancashire, East Lancashire, and Bury and Rochdale health authorities. He said the authorities were entitled to adopt certain policies - and the parents would only have an arguable case if they could show the authorities had failed to consider whether their children had "special needs".

Ann Alexander, a solicitor representing one of the families, said after the hearing: "We have lost the battle but won the war. The judge refused us leave to proceed to judicial review but made it quite clear that he accepts that families can go along to the health authorities and express individual grounds which would justify having this treatment. If they can justify that their case is special then the health authority must listen to them."

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