PCTs will be forced to make NICE-approved drugs available

PCTs will be forced to make NICE-approved drugs available through the introduction of an 'effective compliance regime', according to health secretary Andrew Lansley.

Mr Lansley revealed the plans in response to a question in the House of Commons from former shadow health secretary John Healey MP (Lab, Wentworth and Dearne).

Last year, an investigation by GP magazine revealed that one in four PCTs now 'blacklist' drugs backed by NICE. Drugs on the lists are 'not recommended for use' or 'not prescribable' because they are deemed too expensive or not effective enough.

Mr Healey asked if Mr Lansley could guarantee that all patients in England would be able to access NICE-approved therapies, no matter which clinical commissioning group was responsible for their care.

‘We will make certain that where NICE gives a positive appraisal for medicine that it is automatically included,’ he said.

‘We will establish an effective compliance regime on NICE appraisals and establish a new NICE implementation collaborative to make it happen,’ he said.

He said: ‘You know perfectly well the legislation is clear. Where NICE gives a positive appraisal, a medicine should be available across the NHS.

'It has not in the past been achieved under your government. What we will do, and the NHS chief executive is setting out to do, is to show how that will happen in the future.’

Earlier this week, NICE’s chairman Sir Michael Rawlins said patients should sue PCTs if they were not being offered NICE-approved treatments.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he criticised PCTs’ use of formularies and blacklists that ‘second-guess’ and ignore NICE’s work.

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