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Charity backs call to improve NICE

A charity has backed calls for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to improve the way it approves drugs for use on the NHS.

It comes after MPs on the Health Select Committee accused the regulator of using outdated methods, and said trusts feel compelled to fund NICE-appraised drugs at the expense of other treatments.

The MPs also said an independent body should be created to determine the threshold at which medicines are deemed appropriate.

Their report said: "The affordability of NICE guidance and the threshold it uses to decide whether a treatment is cost-effective is of serious concern.

"The threshold is not based on empirical research and is not directly related to the NHS budget.

"It seems to be higher than the threshold used by primary care trusts (PCTs) for treatments not assessed by NICE."

MS Society chief executive, Simon Gillespie, said: We support calls to make the drug approval process more transparent and streamlined, and welcome proposals to ensure guidance is carried out more effectively by PCTs, but there is still a long way to go."

But he added: "Five years ago this same Select Committee said NICE had to improve relationships with patient groups, and there is still precious little evidence of this."

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