More MS news articles for November 2000

NICE angers UK industry by dropping drugs secrecy

Thursday November 16, 11:00 AM

LONDON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Relations between the pharmaceuticals industry and the UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence hit a new low on Thursday, after the body decided to make its deliberations on treatments public.
The decision to publish preliminary appraisals on new medicines and other therapies, ahead of possible appeal, was taken at a board meeting in Wales on Wednesday.

NICE said trying to keep its consultation process secret had become untenable following a series of high-profile media leaks.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has demanded deliberations remain secret and warned that companies may opt not to launch new medicines first in the UK if the NICE publishes recommendations "prematurely".

It argues confidentialty is essential, since the publication of provisional decisions could damage companies' share prices and alarm patients.

"It is deeply disappointing. Premature publication of provisional results is not helpful to anyone," an ABPI spokesman said.

The watchdog body started operating a year ago to determine which treatments should be reimbursed on the state-funded heath service -- putting it on a collision course with drugmakers.

Companies complain NICE is a "fourth hurdle" in getting their products to market since it judges medicines that have already been approved for sale by regulators on the basis of quality, safety and efficacy.

NICE ran into a furious confrontation with Britain's biggest drugs group, Glaxo Wellcome Plc (LSE: GLXO.L - news) , in October 1999 after rejecting its 'flu drug Relenza.

That first decision has now been reviewed and new guidelines on the use of Relenza will be unveiled on Friday.

A medical source told Reuters last month that NICE would back down from its previous blanket ban and recommend limited use of Relenza among elederly and other high risk patient groups.

Other controversial decisions from NICE include its recommendation that beta interferons should not be prescribed for multiple sclerosis patients other than those already receiving it. That view has now been referred back to the appraisal committee.

Beta interferon is produced by Biogen Inc of the United States, Germany's Schering and Switzerland's Serono SA .