Lords debate NICE charging for technology appraisals

Last night the House of Lords debated NICE charging for technology appraisals. During the debate, Lords raised concerns over the development as well as NICE processes.

The debate, moved by Lord Hunt, allowed Lords to scrutinise the instrument that results in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) starting to charge for technology assessments from April 2019.

According to Lord Hunt, this presents an opportunity for NICE to modernise its processes:

“it is important that, with the extra resources that will be going to NICE, we take the opportunity to ensure that NICE modernises its approach to medicines assessment.”

Furthermore, Lord Hunt also used the opportunity of the debate to criticise how NICE had developed since its foundation:

“…despite the legal requirement on the NHS to implement the technology appraisal decisions of NICE, right from the start it proved remarkably reluctant to do so. As time has gone on and money has been squeezed, NICE has become more a rationer of treatments than a pusher of the introduction of new, innovative products.”

Other Lords voiced concerns over NICE charging for appraisals. Specifically, Baroness Jolly, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health asked:

“How will the anticipated savings from the SI be used? To whom will they be allocated? Will they be used to support growth of the life sciences sector in the UK, or will they just become part of the income stream and then go some way towards the possible privatisation of NICE?”

In responding to the debate for the Government, Baroness Blackwood highlighted the balance in NICE’s responsibility between sustainability and encouraging innovation:

“However, recognising the need for sustainability must be balanced with the imperative to encourage innovation, and the Government and NICE believe that the most appropriate and sustainable model for NICE’s TA programmes in future is for it to levy a proportionate charge on companies that benefit directly from its recommendations.”

The full debate transcript can be found here.

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Published 3. May 2019 in News, News UK