The UK's NICE is often the butt of criticism with regard to its measures of drug cost effectiveness and its ability to recommend a thumbs up or down for use of a given therapy. Recently, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has called for a change in NICE's remit as reported in MNT.
The Director General, Dr. Richard Barker of the APBI suggested a three point plan for NICE's future:
- Broaden NICE's definition of value to capture all elements of healthcare innovation
- Refocus attention on best practice and quality standards and how innovation can enhance both
- Stop National Health Service practices that 'second-guess' NICE
"If we want the NHS and the UK economy to benefit from a vigorous life sciences sector, the reshaping of NICE's remit is an urgent priority. A focus on the future value of innovation, rather than decisions made on narrow cost-effectiveness criteria, would mean that NICE could play an important pivotal role in an outcomes-driven NHS."
Broadly, I agree with ABPI's position. I think cost-effectiveness measures of healthcare, representative of NICE's current charter are here to stay. We really need to look at outcomes along with costs to keep medicine affordable. However, a cost effectiveness system that stifles or prevents the prospect of innovation is highly undesirable. So if an organization like NICE, can have its marching orders tweaked so that it can both look at cost effectiveness but in the context of best practice and quality standards and improve access for patients that will be the best outcome.
As Frank Burns might say, "It's nice to be nice to the NICE".
Posted by Bruce Lehr October 21st 2010.