Posted 16 January 2017
By Zachary Brennan
The UK’s National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on Monday said its plans to charge companies for its appraisals of drugs, medical devices and diagnostics have been put on hold until the UK’s new government completes its life sciences strategy.
The controversial plan to charge for appraisals, first unveiled in October, would see companies pay fees of up to £282,000 for each cost-effectiveness assessment.
NICE’s chief executive, Sir Andrew Dillon, said in a statement on Monday: “We have been working to create a new funding model for technology evaluation to meet the government’s challenge to drive efficiency and deliver better value. We’ve agreed with the Department of Health to wait for the Government’s life sciences strategy to be completed before we move forward with our plans.”
Members of Parliament on the cross-party Exiting the EU Committee on Saturday published a report concluding that the UK government should publish its Brexit plan by mid-February at the latest.
In December, Virginia Acha, executive director of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s division of Research, Medical & Innovation gave evidence to the Exiting the EU Committee saying that a primary objective for government in Brexit negotiations should be to secure alignment and cooperation with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and EU medicines regulation.
That strategy follows some concerns as to what will happen to the UK’s life sciences sector once the UK leaves the EU, particularly as the EMA headquarters are located in London.
Back in August, the UK’s Office for Life Sciences tapped three new ministers to lead a joint government initiative across the Department of Health (DH) and the newly formed Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
NICE’s cost-effectiveness appraisals are currently funded by a grant from the DH, meaning the amount of work the agency can accomplish is subject to annual limits.
In July 2015, a Cabinet Office triennial review of NICE recommended considering the introduction of charges to industry for appraisals, which was reinforced in the DH’s priorities for NICE for 2015-16.
“Charging for appraisals would allow NICE to be more flexible and more responsive to changes in demand,” the agency said in a press release on Monday.