On the Agenda - NICE chief attacks 'spin doctor' claim

- In a nutshell

The chief executive of the UK's drug's rationing body has hit back at claims it spends more money on 'spin doctors' than evaluating the cost-effectiveness of new drugs. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) chief Andrew Dillon (pictured) was responding to comments made by the shadow health minister Mark Simmonds.

- The media coverage

The Daily Mail splashed with Simmonds' comments that NICE spent £4.5m on comms and £3.4m on assessing new medicines. The money spent included £25,000 in fees to Weber Shandwick to defend NICE's ban on Alzheimer's drugs. The spending was detailed in NICE's 2007-08 annual report.

- How did Dillon respond?

In a statement, Dillon said the Tory MP was 'wrong to assert that NICE spends more on spin doctors than on evaluating new drugs'. He added: 'The money we spend on comms covers all the elements that go into producing NICE guidance and making it available to healthcare professionals working in the NHS, those working in the wider public health field and the public.'

- NICE in the headlines

This furore is the latest to beset NICE after a summer of headlines. NICE hit the press when its chair Sir Michael Rawlins laid blame on pharma firms for its rationing choices. NICE was also rocked by a report that branded it 'chaotic' and 'flawed and irrational' by various groups unhappy with the way it makes decisions.

£34m - NICE's annual budget

0.6% of NICE's total budget is spent on public relations.

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