NICE fears drug appraisals will suffer after appeal

Drug appraisals could take longer, claims NICE after the Court of Appeal ruled that it must make the way it calculates cost-effectiveness more open.

Yesterday, Eisai, manufacturers of the Alzheimer's drug donepezil (Aricept), won its argument to be given an executable version of the economical model used by NICE when it decided the drug should not be given to patients with mild Alzheimer's disease.

NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon said: ‘The ruling will increase the complexity of our drug appraisals in some cases and they may take longer as a result. 

‘In the meantime, and in accordance with the judges' ruling, we will provide Eisai with an executable version of the economical model used in our appraisal, so that it can comment on it,' he added.

‘We will then take those comments into account.' 

Although a ‘read-only'version of NICE's economic model is available, the Court of Appeal ruled that an ‘executable' version including additional functions and calculations was made available to Eisai.

NICE said the economical model is put together differently for each technology appraisal. The ruling applies to this individual case and may not be borne out in other appeals. 

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) welcomed the Court of Appeal ruling.

‘This judgement provides further momentum behind the drive to make NICE processes more transparent,' said ABPI director general Dr Richard Barker.

Do you think NICE needs to be more transparent? Comment below and tell us what you think.

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