On the Agenda - Not so NICE allegations

In a nutshell: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has come under fire for its drug approval process.

The Government's drug rationing body has been slammed by experts and patients' representatives, who were invited to participate in a consultation. NICE's procedure has been branded 'chaotic' and 'flawed and irrational' by various groups who are unhappy with the way it makes its decisions.

- Media coverage

The general reaction to the consultation news across the media has been negative for NICE. The Daily Telegraph ran the headline 'NHS drugs body NICE bullied, ignored and patronised patients'. The Daily Mail splashed with a story headlined 'Bullied by the NHS drug tsars'.

- What happens now?

Patients and patient groups are expected to lodge complaints about the process after allegations of being ignored. All of this coincides with the publication of a report that found more than 1,000 patients have been turned down for cancer drugs in the past two years because of a postcode lottery. NICE said it has sent responses to all those involved.

- Wasn't NICE recently in the news for something else?

Yes it was. NICE's highly controversial decision to reject four drugs that can treat advanced kidney cancer hit the headlines last Friday. In draft guidance - which is subject to consultation and then to appeal if the decision stands - NICE accepted that the drugs bevacizumab, sorafenib, sunitinib and temsirolimus were clinically effective but argued they were not cost effective or considered value for money. Experts have reacted angrily to the decision, saying it left them with little option for treating patients.

£24k - Annual cost of Sutent, a kidney cancer treatment.

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