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New work programme for NICE announced

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is being asked to develop technology appraisals on new treatments for breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and Crohn's disease as part of its 13th work programme.

The NICE technology appraisal and clinical guideline work programmes are set by the Department of Health. Topics for referral include both new and emerging health technologies and those drugs, devices and procedures currently in use in the NHS where there is variation in practice. Topics are selected against published criteria.

Health minister, Andy Burnham, said: "NICE's thirteenth work programme will provide valuable advice on issues important to the NHS. This latest referral contains our request that the institute develop guidance on new treatments for breast cancer, lung cancer as well as guidance on new treatments for Crohn's disease.

"We are also asking NICE to produce guidance on the storage of donated kidneys. Donated organs are a particularly precious resource and it is important to ensure that the NHS has the best possible information available on the most effective ways to store and preserve them.

"In addition we have asked NICE to produce guidance on a new drug for the treatment of obesity and overweight patients. This will add to the growing advice to the NHS and other agencies on obesity, following publication of NICE's clinical guideline this month."

The NHS is now required to make drugs available throughout England and Wales where NICE advises that they are clinically and cost-effective.

Drawing on experts in each field and consulting widely with patient groups, NICE has produced guidance on 205 pharmaceuticals, 63 procedures, 17 diagnostics, five health promotion and 113 devices. The majority of NICE appraisals have suggested partial or full use of technologies.

NICE also develops clinical guidelines. This is broader guidance on best care for all aspects of the treatment of specific conditions. As part of the 13th wave work programme, ministers have also asked NICE to develop clinical guidelines on rheumatoid arthritis in adults, diarrhoea and vomiting in children, and a rapid clinical guideline on acutely ill patients in hospital. To date NICE has issued 41 guidelines on clinical areas such schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, lung cancer, depression and fertility.