This week comes news that a drug firm has offered to refund the cost of one of its products to the NHS if it fails to work on patients.

This week comes news that a drug firm has offered to refund the cost of one of its products to the NHS if it fails to work on patients.

The Daily Mail told readers of an 'NHS money-back guarantee', as it explained that the manufacturers of the drug Velcade, which can be used to treat patients with bone marrow cancer, would guarantee to refund the NHS if the drug did not work. The paper said the drug costs up to£18,000 per patient and can extend life by two to three years.

Last year, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence ruled the drug was not cost effective. The Daily Mail said the government had been accused of 'medical apartheid'.

The Financial Times told readers that the decision to reimburse the NHS if the drug failed to work was 'believed to be the first of its kind and could set a precedent that would help the NHS afford expensive new cancer treatments'. The paper quoted NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon, who said it was 'too soon to say whether this could be the start of a trend'. He added: 'There are certainly signs from our conversations with other companies that they are thinking along the same lines.'

The Daily Telegraph said the 'funding U-turn on cancer drug offers hope to English victims' and quoted Cancer Research UK chief executive Harpal Kumar, who said: 'It is essential that patients get access to treatments that will benefit them.

Sadly, issues of cost are accentuated where drugs only help some patients, especially if there is no way of knowing which patients are likely to benefit.'