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Published on 1 July 2010

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Tory MP launches attack on Nice

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A Tory MP has told the Government’s drugs watchdog that it needs to get back to assessing medicine rather than “empire-building”.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) has gone beyond its remit and had been issuing “ridiculous drivel” on public health, according to backbencher Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley.

He said rather than focus on what drugs should be made available on the NHS, Nice had been making suggestions such as smoking breath tests for pregnant women.

Mr Davies urged Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to ensure Nice sticks to its boundaries.

But he even questioned the role it plays in deciding what drugs should be made available after it made a number of controversial choices not to licence certain cancer drugs.

During Commons question time, Mr Davies said: “Can I urge you to get Nice to go back to what most people think it’s there for, which is to monitor the cost-effectiveness and clinical effectiveness of drugs – which many people don’t think it’s doing a particularly good job of anyway – rather than what it’s currently indulging in, empire-building with ridiculous drivel they have come out with in recent weeks on smoking breath tests for pregnant women, compulsory sex education for five year olds, and subsidies for food companies to make healthier food.

“Surely they should get back to what they should be doing and doing it better, rather than empire-building as they are doing.”

But Mr Lansley replied: “Since 2005 Nice has been charged – was charged by the last government then – with providing public health guidance as a part of its work.

“As I establish a more integrated and effective public health service, I will consider how the advice of Nice fits into that strategic framework.”

Copyright Press Association 2010

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