NICE to put QALY under examination

LONDON, Jan 27 (APM) - NICE on Tuesday announced an arms-length investigation into how it values health technology, potentially putting the quality-adjusted life year (QALY) under the microscope.
In a press release, the cost-effectiveness body said NICE chairman, Professor Mike Rawlins, has written to England's top health minister announcing a "short study of how value is taken into account when looking at new health technologies". The study will involve submissions and the use of a series of workshops involving the healthcare industries, patients and the wider public, together with representatives of the NHS to explore this issue, NICE said.
NICE also said the Professor of health law, ethics and policy at University College London, Ian Kennedy has agreed to lead the study. Quoted in the release, Rawlins said: "This study which will look at whether particular forms of value are more important than others; and will explore factors that should be taken into account in establishing the value of new health technologies."


No particular mention of the QALY was made in the release but the measure is at the centre of NICE's work and has been doggedly defended by the institute despite increasing hostility from industry. However, a shift may have taken place with the new UK pricing contract which outlined a greater role for NICE, bringing it to the centre of UK drug pricing.

The pharma industry is known to have pressed for a much wider examination of the benefits of medicines including keeping people in work, reducing the workload of carers and saving the National Health Service costs in reduced hospital admissions.
Rawlins noted a recent report on the future of the biotechnology industry stressed the importance of NICE and the pharmaceutical industry working towards a shared understanding of how to value innovative new health technologies, adding, "NICE supports that view."


[14027] 27/01/2009 11:02 GMT - INDUSTRY

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