NICE on Mars

Merrill Goozner discusses a BMJ article by Nigel Hawke about Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and how it might help those of us in the less-regulated medical world to get useful information on pharmaceuticals. Excerpts:

The global pharmaceutical industry considers Great Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) about as welcome as salmonella-tainted peanut butter at a Super Bowl party.

NICE has used independent researchers to compare the effectiveness of new drugs (especially cancer drugs) to what’s already available. It then proceeds to establish their value by measuring how much they extend life and wellbeing (the dreaded cost-effectiveness analysis, also independently derived). Finally, the agency provides the information to England’s National Health Service, which uses it to determine what services it can provide through its limited budget.

Great Britain also has longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality and health care costs about 60 percent of what we pay in the U.S.

NICE may export its model for profit to — oh, double the horror — the U.S. “It’s clear that what we do and how we do it is of interest to healthcare systems around the world, regardless of how they are funded,” NICE chief executive Andrew Dillon told BMJ.

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