US democrats interested in UK NICE like agency

The Democratic Party's return to overall control of the US Congress last year has moved pharmaceutical cost-effectiveness much higher up the country's political agenda, but the creation of a US NICE is far from certain, delegates heard at the NICE annual conference in Manchester, UK, last week.
Andrea Sutcliffe, who spent two months in Washington earlier this year while she was still NICE deputy chief executive, said that the institute's role in evaluating the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health technologies for the UK's national health service had generated great interest among US lawmakers, civil servants, manufacturers and insurers.
The sharp differences between healthcare systems in the UK and the US made it unlikely that the US would create a cost-effectiveness agency identical to NICE, Ms Sutcliffe said. But she suggested that the institute and its methods might serve as a model for more cost-effectiveness evaluations in US healthcare.
Dr Steve Pearson, senior fellow with America's Health Insurance Plans, an insurer's association, said that an American health technology assessment agency was already taking shape.
He said that US political consensus was forming around the concept of an agency with an annual budget of $300-500 million, funded from both private and public sources. But there was still sharp disagreement over the status of such an agency - would it be inside or outside the government, for example - and the exact sources of funds for its budget.
Cost-effectiveness was also a difficult subject in the US, with sharp disagreement over its precise meaning in the pharmaceutical setting. Political developments this year and next would determine if and when a US NICE might be created, and what kind of agency it might be, Dr Pearson said.
SCRIP - World Pharmaceutical News - www.scripnews.com FILED 11 December 2007 COPYRIGHT Informa UK Ltd 2007

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