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NICE drug firm links under fire

The World Health Organisation has criticised the National Institute for Clinical Excellence for its close relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.

The presence of two drug company representatives on NICE's 51-member appraisal committee created potential 'conflicts of interest', the WHO concluded after a review of the procedures used by NICE to assess new drugs. The review also found NICE's reliance on confidential industry data clashed with its commitment to 'transparency'.

But NICE was nevertheless praised for its commitment to innovation and its 'rigorous methodology', which ensured published appraisals had become 'international benchmarks'.

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