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End blacklisting of NICE-approved drugs

Article: 8034603 pillsAll NHS organisations should publish information which sets out which NICE technology appraisals are included in their local formularies from April 2013, the Department of Health has announced.

Primary care trust (PCT) clusters and clinical commissioning groups will be expected to take the lead on this work and should ensure that the data on local formularies are made available as part of standard terms and conditions in NHS contracts.

NHS chief pharmacists will also be asked to review local formularies.

The move comes after a report into innovation in healthcare by The Department of Health highlighted that not all local formularies include all of NICE's technology appraisals.

This can lead to a postcode lottery where patients miss out on drugs approved by NICE.

A number of investigations have also revealed that some PCTs are blacklisting a range of NICE-approved drugs in order to make cost savings.

Writing in a letter to all strategic health authorities and PCT clusters, NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson said that he "wants to see all NHS organisations publish information which sets out which NICE technology appraisals are included in their local formularies. PCT Clusters and Clinical Commissioning Groups will need to take the lead in working towards publication by 1st April 2013 at the very latest."

“Formularies have an important role in underpinning safe and effective use of medicines.

“However, they should not duplicate NICE assessments or challenge an appraisal recommendation. Once in formularies, there should be no further barriers to the use or prescription of technologies or medicines.”

Sir David said “good progress has been made” in improving access to drugs recommended by NICE, but that “there is much more to do to reduce variation”.

He added: “It will be important that the publications are online, and are clear, simple and transparent, so that patients, the public and stakeholders can easily understand them.”

Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of NICE said: “At the moment there is no standard process for developing local formularies and there tends to be a lot of variation and inconsistencies across England, which was highlighted in the NHS Innovation Health and Wealth report.

“We welcome this latest announcement by the Department of Health and are already working to produce a best-practice guide on how to develop a local formulary, expected later this year. This will help ensure consistency in the way in which local formularies are produced, and ensure there is no local evaluation of drugs that have been positively appraised by NICE.

“NICE-approved drugs should not be excluded from local formularies on the grounds of cost. We want all patients to have access to medicines that we consider to be effective.”

14 August 2012

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Copyright 2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved.