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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Quicker drug approval for NHS

26th December 2008

A more flexible approach from the nation’s drugs advisory body could lead to medicines being available from the NHS much sooner.


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has pledged to produce guidance on which medicines should be provided more quickly.

It is also likely to become more flexible in its approach to approving life-extending drugs.

Accepting criticism that the current process is often too long, NICE chairman Sir Michael Rawlins has stated that guidance would be given within six months of drugs going to market.

Sir Michael said: "Our ambition is to make sure guidance is available within three to six months."

Increases to the number of advisory committees and starting the evaluation process up to a year before a drug company expects to obtain a licence could help achieve this, he explained.

However, with guidance on the new approach to be published early in 2009, the changes may not be in place until 2010 or beyond.

Sir Michael said people attach special importance to extending the lives of those who are terminally ill for a few months and that is appreciated by patients and their relatives.

"We are proposing to provide our advisory bodies with supplementary advice... which will have the effect of extending the threshold range of what we would normally regard as cost-effective," he said.

But Sir Michael pointed out that NICE was not planning to extend this to all conditions as it would cost the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds a year.


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