HEALTHCARE NEWS: At a glance

On The Horizon to bring faster drug information

What’s this, then?

It’s the name of a bulletin issued by the UK National Prescribing Centre (NPC) that goes to NHS doctors, managers and others with an interest in prescribing issues. It updates information on new drugs and indications that may have a therapeutic or financial benefit to the NHS. Liverpool-based NPC was set up in 1996 by the Department of Health to promote cost-effective prescribing across the NHS.

Why is it of interest?

The NPC is also putting out a couple of regular publications based around On The Horizon that should give stakeholders more timely news on drugs. In theory, it means the NHS will get information faster.

Which gives pharma PROs more opportunities for product exposure?

Exactly. The NPC’s Future Medicines gives details of treatments around six months before they launch. The second publication, Rapid Review, is a follow-up that updates information on those products two months before they come on to the market.

What’s the main aim of the bulletins?

Both are aimed at helping NHS managers to prioritise. The NPC says they give independent information on topics either not selected for a NICE appraisal or where the appraisal is unlikely to be published within the early months of product launch. On The Horizon documents are produced in partnership between the NPC and two other centres: the Wessex Drug and Medicines Information Centre and the Newcastle Drug and Therapeutics Centre.

How do they select the products?

A prioritisation group managed by the NPC looks ahead at least 18 months and assesses products’ potential implications for the NHS.

Does NPC produce anything else?

It puts out Therapeutic Overviews, which provide a broad look at new drug advances. It also produces NICE-funded information for primary care organisations and hospital trusts, runs education programmes and aims to disseminate best practice.

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