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Should mitochondrial replacement therapy be funded by the National Health Service?
  1. Sophie Rhys-Evans
  1. School of Medicine, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Sophie Rhys-Evans, School of Medicine, University of Liverpool Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Liverpool L69 3GE, UK; sophie.rhysevans09{at}gmail.com

Abstract

A clinical trial on mitochondrial replacement therapy (MRT) is currently being conducted and if this technique proves effective, National Health Service (NHS) England will fund MRT through the highly specialised services (HSS) funding stream. This paper considers whether MRT should be publicly funded by the NHS. Given the current financial pressure the NHS is experiencing, a comprehensive discussion is essential. There is yet to be a thorough discussion on MRT funding, perhaps because this is a small-scale issue and presumed to be covered by the HSS budget. However, the source of funding has not been confirmed due to the trial’s incompletion. Upon its completion, reasoned decisions need to be made over the allocation of scarce NHS resources. It is therefore important to consider the following arguments in advance. Three arguments given against NHS funding of MRT will be evaluated. The first argument against NHS funding examines the HSS overspending its budget in an underfunded NHS, suggesting funding must be carefully reprioritised. Second, the ethical issue of allowing public access to a technique with insufficient evidence behind it will be explored. The final point considers the option of privately funding MRT and how this would affect the treatment’s development. After illustrating the weaknesses of such arguments, it will be concluded that MRT should be funded by the NHS.

  • allocation of health care resources
  • health care economics
  • in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer
  • disability
  • clinical trials
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Footnotes

  • Contributors Dr Frith provided general supervision of my paper under the Research & Scholarship Programme at The University of Liverpool.

  • Funding The authors have 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.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study. Not applicable.

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