So the MHRA dodge the bullet again and instead it will be NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) that is going to be scrutinised by the Health Select Committee. (I wonder why it was decided to take this action now, and by whom it was instigated?)
For those of you who don’t know, NICE is the body that decides which drugs and treatments should be widely used by the NHS and recently it has generated criticism for turning down some products.
Perhaps you, like me, are confused as to how this can happen, as clearly it is the MHRA that needs to be reviewed rather than NICE. That’s the view from the patient side – from Big Pharma’s viewpoint things look VERY different…
The MHRA are very much onside with the Pharmaceutical companies – a valuable partner you might say. NICE, on the other hand, is in a position to stop Big Pharma from earning billions in profit if it advises certain treatments should not be used by the NHS.
In fact NICE are so much of a problem for the giant pharmaceutical firms, predominantly based in America, that The White House got involved by lobbying British ministers to allow the world’s main drug companies unrestricted access to the NHS as part of a package of free market reforms for the service. The US government is positioning itself behind the pharmaceutical firms which have been piling pressure on the body that approves drugs for use in hospitals and for prescription by GPs.
The drug companies claim that they are being held back by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and have separately lobbied for it to be reformed.
In a surprising intervention, the US deputy health secretary, Alex Azar, forced the issue last November, in London talks with officials following a trip to the US Patricia Hewitt. He said attempts to use rationing mechanisms such as Nice to cut soaring drugs bills would stifle innovation – an argument that is constantly made by the pharmaceutical industry.
Azar also made it clear that he was in favour of the drug companies being allowed to advertise directly to patients in the UK.
For the full article on this interesting news item please follow the link here, to Sarah Boseley in at the Guardian.
I wonder, could this explain why NICE is in the line of fire rather than the MHRA?