NICE responds to Sunday Express story on delays to guidance publication
The Chief Executive of NICE, Sir Andrew Dillon, has today written to Martin Townsend, Editor of the Sunday Express.
Dear Mr Townsend,
I am writing to complain about the article that appeared on page four of yesterday's Sunday Express: “Scandal of life-saving drugs held up by poll.”
Your journalist, Lucy Johnston, telephoned our press office on Friday to ask whether any guidance publication had been delayed by the election. She also wanted to know who had told us not to publish guidance during the campaign.
We explained to Lucy that NICE follows the Cabinet Office advice on conduct by public bodies during a General Election and that, as a consequence, we would not be publishing final or draft guidance during the election campaign. We referred her to the information clearly set out on our website: http://www.nice.org.uk/newsroom/news/NICEAndTheGeneralElectionCampaign.jsp
More importantly, we confirmed to Lucy, both verbally, and by email (attached) that no NICE guidance on cancer drugs was being delayed by the election. The only drug appraisal that had been due to be published, as final guidance, in April was for medicines to treat Crohn's disease, and publication of this would be delayed by two weeks, from April 28 to May 12. Our only other publications in April would have been draft guidance, which would not have had an impact on access, by patients, to treatments.
Despite having received this written confirmation from us, Lucy wrote a highly misleading article, including quotes from several people who were clearly asked to react to information that was not true.
Furthermore, Lucy did not ask us anything about the drug Nexavar, which she used in the article as an example of a drug supposedly delayed. Had she bothered to ask us, we could have confirmed that final guidance on this drug had not been due to be published in April, and was therefore not being delayed by the election.
In light of the fact that you have printed an incorrect and misleading article, I am asking that you print a correction on page four of next week's paper. I am also requesting that Lucy Johnston contacts the people quoted in her article to let them know that, in fact, no final NICE guidance on cancer drugs, which would have been published in April, has been delayed as a result of the election campaign.
Sir Andrew Dillon
26 Apil 2010
This page was last updated: 26 April 2010