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Published on 10 January 2008

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MPs “concerned” over NICE approvals

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A group of MPs has said it is seriously concerned over the way in which the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) approves drugs for NHS use.

A report by the Health Select Committee said some methods used by the body are outdated and some NHS trusts feel forced to fund NICE-appraised drugs at the expense of treatments for other patients.

While the study praised the “vital role” NICE plays in selecting drugs in difficult circumstances, it added there are areas that need attention, including setting up an independent body to determine the threshold at which treatments are deemed cost-effective.

NICE has been heavily criticised for being too arbitrary in the way its cost threshold is used to evaluate drugs, and some witnesses told the committee that the use of a threshold was leading to bias against treatments for long-term, chronic conditions.

The study said: “The affordability of NICE guidance and the threshold it uses to decide whether a treatment is cost-effective is of serious concern.

“The threshold is not based on empirical research and is not directly related to the NHS budget.

“It seems to be higher than the threshold used by primary care trusts (PCTs) for treatments not assessed by NICE.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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