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In the article Should rare diseases get special treatment? by Monica Q F de Magalhaes,1 it is argued that rarity is not a morally relevant feature to consider in prioritising treatment in healthcare, but severity is. A central conclusion in the article is that severity rather than prevalence should guide different cost-effectiveness thresholds. Hence, I take it, she answers no to the question in her own heading. I agree with all of this—and with most of her other arguments and conclusions in the article—except for the clause ‘rather than prevalence’. For this reason, I find the article misses its’ mark (even if not by much). Let me explain by taking Sweden as an example.
Sweden has a legally established ethics framework for priority setting in healthcare since 1997, comprising three principles: human-dignity principle, needs-solidarity principle and cost-effectiveness principle. The implication of these principles in practice is that the higher the severity—the higher the cost-effectiveness threshold acceptable.2 During the last 10 years or so, the highest accepted cost-effectiveness threshold for the most severe conditions have been in the order of €100 000/QALY. Until a few years ago rarity or prevalence was …
Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.