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NICE Urges Review of Drug Evaluation Methodology

Posted 18 September 2014 | By Louise Zornoza

NICE Urges Review of Drug Evaluation Methodology

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Following public criticism of its rejection of a number of expensive cancer treatments, the UK’s health cost watchdog is calling for a review of the way new medicines are adopted by the National Health Service.  In a statement released today, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says it is “positioning itself for a wider role in the way drugs are developed, evaluated and taken up in the NHS,” and wants to involve patients, the NHS, industry and health researchers in a broad debate on access to new medicines.

Earlier this year, NICE published a consultation with proposals on “value-based assessment” intended to give more direction to the independent committees which appraise new technologies on behalf of the institute.  The consultation had been demanded by the Department of Health as part of an effort to rein in the £13 billion a year spent on pharmaceuticals in the face of rising prices for breakthrough drugs. After consideration of the results of the consultation by NICE’s Board of Directors, however, no consensus was found in responses on the proposed changes.

NICE’s recent statement argues that any changes to its methods need to be made as part of a “wider review of the innovation, evaluation and adoption of new treatments (including those for cancers),” and is proposing a number of changes beyond those to its drug evaluation methodology, including:

  • a new office for innovation to help companies navigate through the stages of the development, evaluation and adoption of their products into the NHS
  • agreement between NICE, NHS England and the Department of Health on the NHS's willingness to pay for new treatments, taking into account special cases like ultra-orphan conditions and cancer
  • ways of sharing risk between drugmakers and the NHS, to better reflect the value of new treatments as knowledge about these treatment increases

NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon explained that NICE  needs to “look at other processes, including the model of pharmaceutical research and development, the expectations that companies and patient groups have about how risk and reward is shared between the industry and a publicly funded NHS, and in the arrangements for commissioning expensive new treatments.”


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