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Tuesday 25th October 2016

NICE should reject more treatments

28th August 2007

A new report has suggested that the organisation responsible for assessing new therapies and drugs for the NHS could be approving too many treatments.

Drugs & Money

The document says that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) judged “value for money? at a cost far higher than the NHS could afford.

The findings come in a report by The King's Fund and City University, which is published in the British Medical Journal.

NICE uses the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) formula to decide if the NHS should spend money on new drugs and treatments. It examines the effectiveness of a drug, their side effects and balances that with the price per extra year of good health for a patient.

Roughly, if a new treatment can deliver one QALY for £20,000 or less, it is deemed cost-effective and heading for NHS approval.

But as there are some treatments with QALY costs of up to £30,000 that may also be approved, the researchers say this threshold was too high in comparison to how the rest of the NHS worked out which treatments to fund.

Professor Nancy Devlin from City University said she would be in favour of NICE reducing its threshold to match the rest of the NHS.

She said that primary care trusts told to fund a new drug approved by NICE under these criteria might end up sacrificing another treatment which actually offered better quality of life improvements for patients, for less money.

NICE has confirmed that the limits are currently under review.


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