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UK’s NICE to revamp its processes to make access to medicines “fairer”

The health technology assessment body is running a consultation to make its processes “clear, transparent and predictable”

The launch of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 1999 was surrounded in controversy, primarily because the health technology assessment body would consider the cost as well as the clinical efficacy of new medicines.

Started by one man with a borrowed laptop, NICE has since grown into one of the world’s leading evidence-based HTA bodies.

Now, after more than 20 years, NICE has announced that it will review and revamp its processes and evaluation methods aimed to “simplify and streamline” how it works.

“As NICE grows in importance for the health service in England, so do expectations from all our stakeholders for what our methods and processes can do for them,” said chief executive Gillian Leng. “Chief among these is how we can reflect and enable the broader vision of the life sciences industry, patients and the service for accelerated access to innovative health technologies while managing risk and ensuring the NHS gets value for money.”

As part of the revamp, NICE wants to hear from its stakeholders and a consultation will run until 13 October for those wishing to express a view on the future of the Institute.

“NICE occupies a unique position in managing the life cycle of innovative health technologies,” said Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE. “Ensuring that our methods and processes are clear, transparent and predictable, these proposals further emphasise our commitment to making the journey for promising new health technologies even faster and patient access fairer.”

For Paul Catchpole, director of value and access policy at pharma trade body, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the review is “a major milestone” and “a significant opportunity to ensure NICE’s methods and processes are cutting edge and able to support NHS patients having timely access to life changing medicines”.

The ABPI will seek “early and better engagement” with companies as part of NICE’s HTA appraisals, said Catchpole, but he has already cast doubt on whether the proposals go far enough.

“We are disappointed that proposals to appropriately value the long-term benefits of potentially curative treatments such as cell and gene therapies has been missed. This will set the UK back in becoming a world leader in the development, manufacturing, evaluation and adoption of these and other ground-breaking treatments,” he added.

Article by
Hugh Gosling

20th August 2021

From: Research, Healthcare

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