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NICE rulings 'just one part of big picture'

NICE guidance can reinforce information from other sources but has little impact in isolation on GPs' prescribing choices, research shows.

The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice (February), used prescribing data and questionnaires to examine the effect of five NICE technology appraisals on GP prescribing in North Devon PCT.

PACT data showed there was an increase in the prescribing of the drugs immediately after NICE guidance ­ except for zanamivir (Relenza) ­

but this was not always sustained.

Researcher Bernard Wath- en, medicines information and formulary pharmacist at North Devon District Hospital, said: 'The bottom line was that if NICE agreed with other sources of information it was accepted. Its main value appears to be in reinforcing other advice.'

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