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NHS organisations must prove they are adopting new drugs, NICE proposes


NICE has set out a raft of measures for commissioners to demonstrate they are adopting new drugs approved for National Health Service (NHS) use, in line with the NHS Constitution.

During its board meeting, in Cheltenham, on Wednesday, the UK drugs cost-effectiveness body will discuss three different measures that NHS professionals and organisations should use to prove they are not denying patients their rights to the latest innovative treatments.

They include demonstrating proof of funding for new treatments, proof of offering them, and proof patients understand they have been offered them, according to a document published ahead of the meeting.

The document comes shortly after a report by the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre this year highlighted huge variance across the country in the uptake of new medicines approved for NHS use.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said at the time these were "unexplained variations in usage" beyond that caused by factors such as local or regional demographic factors.

In an email exchange with APM on Wednesday, Paul Catchpole, the ABPI's director of value and access, said he supported NICE's proposed measures, contained within its board meeting papers.

He said: "They are new measures that haven't been focused on before, therefore they will be a valuable addition to those already used. The ABPI believes that the use of these measures should result in improved compliance with NICE guidance."

When asked if there should be a penalty-based system, for non-compliance, he said: "The ABPI would support appropriate penalties for non-compliance because that would further embed the importance of the NHS implementing NICE guidance which will ultimately benefit patients."

He concluded: "There needs to be a package of measures which demonstrate overall whether all eligible patients across a local health economy are receiving NICE approved medicines fully in line with each piece of guidance. This would build on existing work such as the Innovation Scorecard."

In its document, NICE said it has drawn up a guide to demonstrate how organisations can prove they are achieving and demonstrating compliance with NICE technology appraisals (TAs) and highly specialised technology evaluations (HSTs).

It explained that "commissioners have a statutory responsibility to make funding available for a drug or treatment recommended by NICE TA or HST, within the timeframe recommended in that guidance".

"Compliance is therefore achieved if a clinician and their patient thinks a health technology is the right treatment, it is available on the NHS, as described in the NHS Constitution, and without any local funding restrictions."

The document advises demonstrating evidence that funding and processes are in place for the uptake of new drugs, through publication of updated local formularies, policy statements and contracts (to demonstrate funding), and clinical pathways, which show medicines are available for use.

To show providers are offering patients the latest NICE-approved drugs, the cost-effectiveness body recommends targeted clinical audits of selected NICE TA and HST guidance.

And to demonstrate that patients believe treatment options were discussed with them, and that their preferences were taken into account, NICE advises carrying out patient surveys.


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