NICE wants proactive role in ensuring medicines use

NICE plans to play a more proactive role in ensuring the National Health Service (NHS) uses the medicines it recommends – as industry waits for the government’s delayed, but much anticipated, review on access to new treatments.

Carole Longson, health technology evaluation centre director at NICE, said the cost-effectiveness body already tracks use of the drugs and treatments it recommends for regular funding on the NHS in England and Wales.

NICE’s guidance is supposed to be binding and the NHS should have arrangements in place to fund recommended drugs or treatments within three months of a positive decision.

But industry claims that this is not happening, with a common complaint being that the NHS is slow to use new technologies, even though NICE considers them a worthwhile investment.

Longson told the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) conference in London: “We have a team tracking uptake. I think we need to become an ‘uptake track’.

“We will identify technologies that the system wants – but it is not just a passive exercise to see what happens next; we will become a partner in order to get that to happen.”

She noted the importance of early dialogue with manufacturers in the drug development process.

With this early dialogue NICE aims to make decisions about cost effectiveness of drugs at the time of marketing authorisation.

But she expressed frustration with industry and the poor quality of some evidence used to support cost-effectiveness calculations submitted to NICE.

“We have had 16 years of technology appraisals but products are coming to market with value propositions not supported by the evidence.”

Longson made her comments after Sir Hugh Taylor, author of the delayed Accelerated Access Review into how the NHS can use new technologies, said many NHS organisations were facing considerable deficits because funding from the government is tightly controlled.

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