DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service.
A package of
measures designed to speed up access to new drugs and treatments
for NHS patients, was announced by the National Institute for
Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Health Minister Lord
The four proposed changes will ensure that more NHS patients
receive the life-saving, clinically and cost effective drugs and
treatments they need faster. It will also ensure that where NICE
guidance has not yet been issued for a new drug or treatment the
local NHS makes more robust and transparent decisions about what
treatments it will fund.
The measures announced today by Lord Darzi and NICE are:
* A consultation on a new and faster system for referring drugs
to NICE for appraisal - proposals will enable NICE to issue more
timely guidance, in turn giving patients faster access to drugs
* An additional new appraisal committee - to ensure that NICE has
the capacity it needs to appraise new drugs and treatments as
promptly as possible;
* Increased investment in "horizon scanning" to ensure
that new drugs are identified early on for appraisal; and
* A guidance document for the NHS - detailing good practice on
how decisions on new drugs should be made by Primary Care Trusts
where there is no existing NICE guidance . This will be supported
by a programme of training and support to assist theNHS to
implement the guidance.
Announcing the package of measures, Health Minister, Lord Darzi, said:
"Last year in High Quality Care for All I set out our
commitment to speed up the NICE process. Together, the measures
set out today build on this commitment and will help provide
faster and fairer access to new drugs and treatments - great news
We are delighted to be working in partnership with NICE to ensure
that new drugs and treatments are assessed sooner and more quickly
in future, leading to improved and higher quality care for patients.
"The guidance for PCTs will help the NHS to ensure that
local decisions are robust and transparent, leading to more
consistency in those exceptional cases where there is no existing
Chief Executive of NICE, Andrew Dillon, said:
"This is an important consultation on the way that topics
are chosen and referred for NICE's world-leading appraisals
of new drugs and treatments. We are very keen to ensure that our
guidance is produced as quickly as possible to benefit patients
and the NHS.
"Speeding up non-cancer appraisals by at least three months
to come in to line with the cancer appraisals, and increasing
transparency by clarifying topic selection criteria, are just some
of the potential improvements we and the Department of Health are suggesting.
"The views of patients, the public, health professionals and
other stakeholders on the proposed changes to the topic selection
process will be very helpful, and we look forward to receiving
The consultation on the proposed changes to the NICE topic
selection will run for 3 months whilst the guidance to PCTs will
be issued to the NHS with immediate effect.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. Any further media enquiries on the guidance to PCTs or this
announcement in general should be directed to the DH Newsdesk on
020 7210 5221.
2. Any media enquiries related to the work of NICE and its
processes or the management of the consultation on the proposed
new selection criteria should be directed to the NICE Press Office
on 0845 003 7782.
3. The new appraisal process which will be consulted on will
include the following:
* New joint DH/NICE exclusion and prioritisation criteria for
technology appraisals. The new criteria apply to both cancer and
non-cancer appraisals. We believe these new criteria will allow
NICE to operate the early stage of the process with less DH involvement.
* No "minded" referral stage for any technology
appraisal topics. This change will mean there is a single point of
Ministerial referral for all drugs.
* Smaller, more frequent batches of topics referred to NICE, up
to 6 times a year rather than 3 times as now.
4. The consultation document can be downloaded from http://www.nice.org.uk/getinvolved
5. The additional investment in "horizon scanning"
capacity will be through the Department of Health's existing
contract with the University of Birmingham.
6. The guidance to PCTs sets out in detail the framework for
rational decision-making and contains realistic examples of
processes that are seen to be working in the NHS. It is intended
to be an evolving document, which will be modified to take account
of experience. It can be accessed on the National Prescribing
Centre's website http://www.npc.co.uk
7. The measures also support the implementation of the
recommendations in Mike Richard's review on the funding of
additional private care. Following his review new guidance was
issued to the NHS which made clear that the NHS should not
withdraw treatment from the few patients who still choose to pay
privately for drugs which are not funded by the local NHS.