The health technology appraisal work of NICE is an emerging science and therefore imprecise. Because of this and the fact that its recommendations are of crucial importance to patients, assessments must not be reduced only to a narrow cost-effectiveness calculation and must be carried out in a transparent way if there is to be public confidence in them.
“Public and patients have been dismayed by recent NICE decisions covering a wide variety of medicines that effectively deny patients in England and Wales access to therapies available elsewhere,” said Dr Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI. “NICE has an essential, if unenviable, role to play in defining priorities and setting standards of care – which makes it vital that it stands for Clinical Excellence and that the thinking behind its decision-making is clear to all.”
The ABPI believes that NICE is applying arbitrary thresholds of ‘cost-effectiveness’ and, where there is uncertainty in the process, patients are often denied the benefit of doubt – leaving them without any treatment, with an unlicensed medicine or having to wait until their condition has worsened.
“NICE should be giving the NHS the freedom to use exciting new therapies for life-threatening conditions, and thus gain the very experience needed to assess their long-term value for money,” said Dr Barker.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410