Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), following the evidence session of 16 January

  Professor Gordon McVie

  I am writing to correct the erroneous information, given by Professor McVie, in his evidence to the Select Committee on Science and Technology.

  1.  NICE has already issued technology appraisal guidance on the use of:

    —  Taxanes

      —  breast cancer

      —  ovarian cancer

      —  lung cancer

    —  Temozolomide

      —  glioma

    —  Gemcitabine

      —  pancreatic cancer

      —  lung cancer

    —  Vinorelbine

      —  lung cancer

    —  Topotecan

      —  ovarian cancer

    —  Fludarabine

      —  chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

  2.  The Institute is currently appraising:

    —  Rituximab

      —  follicular lymphoma

    —  Irinotecan

      —  colon cancer

    —  Oxaliplatin

      —  colon cancer

    —  Raltitrexed

      —  colon cancer

    —  Vinorelbium

      —  breast cancer

    —  Caelyx

      —  ovarian cancer

    —  Imatinib

      —  chronic myeloid leukaemia

    —  Capecitabine

      —  colon cancer

      —  breast cancer

    —  Tegafer uracil

      —  colon cancer

  3.  The Institute's appraisals are conducted vigorously and fairly, taking into account both clinical and cost effectiveness. Moreover, as part of its appraisal process, the Institute seeks advice from relevant health professionals (including oncologists in the case of anti-cancer drugs) and patient/carer organisations (eg CancerBACUP).

  4.  The Institute accepts that, in the past, there has been unacceptable variation in the provision of medicines, including anti-cancer drugs. Indeed, this was one of the reasons for the establishment of the Institute. NICE has therefore embarked on a series of appraisals of anti-cancer drugs which, as you can see, is now well advanced. At the time that NICE was established (April 1999) there were, however, many other health technologies (quite apart from anti-cancer drugs) that were subject to "post code" variability and we have consequently been required to devote considerable attention to this "backlog". In this context, the Committee should be aware that NICE's work programme is set by the Department of Health and the National Assembly for Wales; the Institute does not, itself, have powers to decide the priorities for appraisals.

  5.  In order to avoid the re-emergence of "post code" prescribing the Institute is anxious for its appraisals of significant new technologies to be completed within three months of their appearance on the market.

  6.  The Committee will be aware that the implementation of NICE guidance is the responsibility of health authorities and trusts. The Institute is conscious that, in the past, there have been occasions when NICE guidance has not been as rapidly implemented as we would have wished. We therefore support the Government's recent Directive that places an obligation on health authorities and trusts to fund NICE's appraisal guidance.

  Professor McVie is aware of all these issues and I regret that his remarks may have misled your Committee. I would, of course, be pleased to set the record straight in person if this were appropriate.

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins

Chairman—The National Institute for Clinical Excellence

18 January 2002

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 20 March 2002