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NICE wins plaudits in the US; still hated here

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2008 by Alan Lovell Tagged: , ,

The Health Care Blog reports on a recent talk given by Andrew Dillon, the head of NICE, to a bunch of high-powered folks from, amongst other places, California Dept of Managed Health Care, Kaiser Permanente, Mercer etc. Apparently, with a wonderful turn of phrase, “NICE is only well known in the US as being the agency that stops new wonderful treatments getting to blighted Brits who are instead left to die in the streets.” It’s a refreshingly balanced view about NICE that perhaps only an outsider (to the UK) could provide. It points out that, contrary to what you may believe from reading the Daily Mail, most recommendations are positive (72%), and very few wholly negative (3%). The remaining 25% have been positive AND negative, in that some uses of the drug or device have been approved but not all the ones that it was marketed for.

There is much good that can be said about NICE, but their budget is about to triple from £32m to £100m per year, and that is an awful lot of money. While the review might argue that “The Brits realize that the NHS has to do what it can with what it’s got, and that in order for everyone to be covered, everyone has to chip in” I do wonder if public support for NICE and the whole concept of cost-effectiveness as it currently stands for NICE decision makers will last in the UK. Legal challenges seem to occur frequently, and public support is on the wane. As one comment on a recent news story about NICE’s decision on new drugs for Alzheimer’s: “I wonder, how many Alzheimers sufferers could be treated if NICE were scrapped?”

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