UK Watchdog Agency To Lose Power To Reject New Drugs
The British government is expected to strip the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, of its ability to reject new drugs.
Currently, NICE "scrutinizes the cost and clinical benefits of new drugs to determine whether the state health-care system should pay for them," The Wall Street Journal reports. "If NICE decides that a drug isn't worth its price tag, it advises doctors not to prescribe it, which effectively results in a ban. But Britain's new coalition government, led by the Conservative party, is planning to strip NICE of the ability to reject drugs, the Department of Health said in a written response to questions Monday. Conservative Party leaders are both trying to limit the size and reach of government and put power in the hands of doctors, rather than administrators, when it comes to treatment decisions. In the future, NICE will advise doctors on the best approaches to treating various diseases" and decisions about payment for new treatments "will be made through 'a new system of value-based pricing,' the statement said" (Whalen, 11/2).
Nature.com: In value-based pricing (VBP), "fees are negotiated with companies on the basis of a scientific assessment of the drug's clinical value. Countries such as Canada and Australia already use versions of VBP, but Britain has an enormous influence on the rest of the world, says Karl Claxton, a health economist at the University of York, UK. Other countries, for instance, use NICE guidance to help make healthcare decisions. Some though have already warned of adverse consequences if industry does not feel the prices offered adequately reward the development of new drugs" (Cressey, 11/1).