More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Drugs watchdog calls in patient panel

Saturday, 24 November, 2001, 05:52 GMT

The body that assesses new drugs for the NHS is linking up with a "citizen's council" to help it make difficult ethical decisions.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has to decide which drugs and treatments are cost-effective enough to be prescribed.

However, it has run into criticism after rejecting the controversial multiple sclerosis drug beta Interferon - and in the past has been accused of not listening sufficiently to patients before making decisions.

Now NICE is setting up the Citizen's Council's with up to 30 people representative of the varied population of England and Wales.

This will be able to look at any ethical, social or moral issues arising from the work of the doctors and health economists in the rest of NICE.

'Public's perspective'

Andrew Dillon, NICE's chief executive, said: "This is a really exciting development for the Institute and the NHS. We expect this Council to provide NICE with advice that reflects the public's perspective on what are often challenging moral and ethical issues".

"We want the Council to be truly representative of the people who live in England and Wales and will work hard to ensure that the people on it include the right mix of men and women, and that they are representative of the age, social class and ethnic structure of the people in England and Wales.

"The Council will not include people who work in the NHS or in private medicine. Similarly those working in the Department of Health, the National Assembly for Wales health teams, the healthcare industries or in groups or organisations supporting patient or industry groups, for example lobbying organisations, will also be excluded"

A spokesman from the MS Society, one of those which has complained about a perceived lack of patient involvement in NICE, said that input "from the man and woman in the street" would be welcome.