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Independents' Day

NICE delays criticised by MPs

By Nigel Praities

NICE disadvantages patients in England as it takes an ‘unacceptable' length of time to publish its guidance on treatments, say MPs.

In a report from the Health Select Committee published today, MPs said the delay between the licensing of medicines and NICE guidance ‘blights' healthcare delivery by the NHS.

The report recommends the body gives an initial appraisal before the launch of a new medicine.

‘The reduced access to those licensed medicines that are eventually proven to be cost-effective before NICE's as-sessment takes place is unac-ceptable. It is also unaccept-able that Scottish patients have access to new medicines while English patients do not,' says the report.

NICE's early guidance should look at the indications for a treatment in the marketing authorisation and could then be followed, and superseded, by a full appraisal of the prod-uct once more evidence is available, said the MPs.

Dr Bill Beeby, a GP in Middlesborough and chair of the Clinical and Prescribing Sub-committee at the GPC, said doctors were often left in ‘no man's land' while waiting for NICE guidance.

‘There have been considerable delays in getting advice out to doctors about best treatments, which often leads to difficult decisions being made by indi-vidual therapeutics committees around the country with only limited information, which subsequently have to be re-vised once the guidance is issued,' he said.

The MPs also called for NICE to place more emphasis to examining old technologies and not just to focus on new and expensive products.

NICE said they would con-sider the recommendations from the report and prepare a formal response to the Com-mittee's report over the next few weeks.

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