New drugs for colorectal cancer, breast cancer and epilepsy, the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and treatments for diabetes and kidney patients are being considered for referral to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), UK Health Minister John Denham has announced.
The treatments are part of a proposed sixth wave of topics which may be looked at by NICE following consultation. NICE was set up in 1999 to help tackle the postcode lottery of prescribing - where treatments are available in some areas and not others. It should also speed up the uptake of clinically and cost effective new treatments by issuing clear, evidence-based guidance to the NHS on the use of drugs and treatments.
A number of new anti-epileptic drugs have recently been introduced, either as second-line therapy on their own or as "add-on" treatment to conventional drugs such as sodium valproate. There are widespread variations in clinical practice and in access to these drugs. NICE appraisal would advise on the clinical and cost effectiveness of the newer drugs, both in children and in adults, and help to promote appropriate uptake and equitable access. This would be part of the preparatory work for the recently announced National Service Framework on neurological conditions.