Update: NICE responds to calls to change how it assesses treatments

NICEOnly a few days ago, I wrote a blog post, Calls for NICE to change how it assesses treatments about an opinion piece in the Pharmaceutical Journal written by the CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), calling for NICE to speed up the way it assesses cancer drugs, along with medicines for rare diseases.

Just a week after this opinion piece, NICE have responded by effectively shortening the length of time it takes for a new cancer drug to be approved for use in the NHS in a proposal which will be subject to consultation in September[1].

The ABPI would like to see treatments approved at an earlier stage so that patients have quicker access to novel treatments, updated with clinical evidence as it comes to light. NHS England are proposing that the existing Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) should become a ‘managed access’ fund for new cancer drugs.

Instead of being completely left out of NICE recommendations on grounds of insufficient evidence, the drug would be given “conditional approval” whilst further evidence from “real world” use was collected during a defined period. At the end of this period, the drug would go through a much shorter NICE appraisal for recommendation for use in the NHS[2].

Obviously, this fast-tracking is only for cancer drugs at present but the CEO of the ABPI also mentioned rare diseases in her opinion piece. It’s clear that if big pharma want change, it gets done, and quickly. Cameron is desperate for the pharmaceutical industry to stay in the UK, so perhaps this change is to appease it. If evidence comes out of this new system, it’s possible that it could speed up the whole process of drug licensing.

If these proposals are put in place I will update my article How long does it take a new drug discovery to be licensed in the UK?

As always, comments are welcome in the section below, with some ground rules for safe discussions.


1 Pharmaceutical Journal. Proposal to involve NICE in approval process for Cancer Drugs Fund. 2015. http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/news-in-brief/proposal-to-involve-nice-in-approval-process-for-cancer-drugs-fund/20069037.article (accessed 24 Jul 2015).
2 NHS England. Future Delivery of the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) Board Paper. http://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/item-8-cancer-drug-fund.pdf (accessed 24 Jul 2015).

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