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NICE boss says patients should challenge drug decisions

By Nigel Praities

Patients should challenge PCT decisions not to fund new treatments before they have been appraised by NICE, says the institute's chief executive.

Andrew Dillon, appearing on the BBC's Panorama programme last night, said because there was no consistent basis on which exceptional funding for treatments was given by PCTs, patients should challenge decisions they don't agree with.

‘What [patients] need to do is to find out from those making the decision on what basis it was made, and if you don't feel it is appropriate then you need to ask why it was not funded,' he said.

He also criticised PCTs for not applying guidance consistently, saying ‘everyone needed to work together' to ensure the NHS provided the best possible care.

Recent controversy over NICE decisions not to recommend certain cancer treatments has sparked a row over the way new drugs are approved for use in the NHS.

The Government recently promised in the NHS Next Stage Review to dramatically accelerate NICE decisions to within a few months of a drug being licensed, in order to reduce the current ‘postcode lottery' in access to treatments.

On the Panorama programme, author Terry Pratchett criticised NICE over its decision not to license the Alzheimer's drug Aricept for those in the early stages of the disease.

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