National Institiue for Health and Clinical Excellence

Annual Review - 2009/2010

In November 2009 we announced the creation of an additional Technology Appraisal Committee to deliver faster guidance to the NHS

Evaluating drugs and treatments

NICE’s technology appraisals programme makes recommendations on the use of drugs and other health technologies within the NHS. Each appraisal is based on a review of clinical and economic evidence – in other words, how well the drug or treatment works, and whether it offers value for money, compared with current and best NHS practice. You can find out more about technology appraisals on the NICE website.

In 2009/10 NICE’s Centre for Health Technology Evaluation published 17 new technology appraisals, containing 22 individual recommendations about medicines to treat a range of conditions including hepatitis B, chronic eczema and soft tissue sarcoma. Of these 22 recommendations, the majority (15) recommend that the medicine should be used across the NHS or in specific circumstances.

In 2009/10 we introduced several improvements to the way that NICE evaluates drugs and treatments.

In November 2009 NICE announced the creation of an additional Technology Appraisal Committee, designed to increase the capacity of the technology appraisals programme and deliver faster guidance to the NHS on new treatments and drugs. 

Also in November, NICE published updated guides setting out its processes for single and multiple technology appraisals. The updated guides reflect how the processes have evolved in recent years and includes developments such as patient access schemes, inviting drug manufacturers and primary care trusts to attend Appraisal Committee meetings, and holding committee meetings in public.

During the year the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation worked closely with NICE’s in-house topic selection team to refine and improve the process for selecting appraisal topics for referral to NICE. The new process speeds up the time it takes technology appraisal topics to be referred to NICE and ensures patient and carer groups, the public, healthcare professionals and drug manufacturers continue to have a say in the topics referred to NICE. 

Examples of technology appraisals this year

Lenalidomide for treating multiple myeloma, a rare bone marrow cancer 

Published in June 2009 and the subject of a BBC documentary, ‘The Price of Life’, the NICE guidance on lenalidomide recommends using the drug to treat people with multiple myeloma who have received two or more prior therapies. Lenalidomide fitted NICE’s new criteria for appraising end-of-life treatments for people with terminal illnesses. This recommendation was made possible in part because the manufacturer, Celgene, offered a patient access scheme for NHS patients.

Read more about the lenalidomide guidance.

Ustekinumab for treating severe plaque psoriasis

In September 2009 NICE published guidance recommending ustekinumab as a treatment option for adults with severe plaque psoriasis, a painful skin condition, if their psoriasis has not responded to standard treatments. 

Read more about the ustekinumab guidance.

Prasugrel for preventing arterial blood clots

In October 2009 NICE published guidance recommending using prasugrel plus aspirin to prevent blood clots in the arteries of high-risk patients with a group of heart problems known as acute coronary syndromes. The guidance recommends prasugrel plus aspirin for people at high risk of blood clots – including people who have diabetes or who are being treated for narrowed arteries.

Read more about the prasugrel guidance.