For the first time, a formal report has acknowledged that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is a body set up to enforce the rationing of medicines. However, it also usefully highlights the need for NICE to focus on challenging ineffective patterns of care and ensuring its positive guidance is actually followed.
“British patients already have worse access to new medicines than others in Europe. Faster, ‘quick and dirty’ assessments of medicines against tougher cost-effectiveness hurdles will actually make this problem worse,” said Dr Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI.
“What we most need is an innovative NHS, not one more determined to ration care before we even know how patients will benefit from it.”
The pharmaceutical industry supports the need for NICE and its robust assessment of medicines but this is not going to be achieved by assessing all medicines at launch with a lower threshold for cost per quality adjusted life years (QALY). But it agrees with the committee that broader definitions of value need to be explored.
Some aspects of the report will be welcomed, including specialist advisers in particular disorders taking a full part in the appraisal process and the general support it gives for better implementation.
“While the report does contain many positives, patients will note that finally there is official acknowledgement of NICE’s role as a ‘rationing’ body rather than an organisation designed to promote clinical excellence and to improve access to medicines for all NHS patients,” said Dr Barker.
“The fact that some PCTs apparently find NICE recommendations unaffordable is more a reflection of poor forward planning for innovations in the NHS than it is of the value they deliver.”
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press office: 020 7747 1410 (office)