Finding answers in the real world

Heather explains how your medical records may help NICE make decisions

Heather Stegenga, Senior Analyst, NICE Science policy and research programme

Our recommendations underpin what medicines the NHS can offer. This is a huge responsibility.

We need to know that a drug will deliver results when it is used in routine clinical practice. But where to do we turn to for proof of this effectiveness?  

Clinical trials can show how well a treatment works under specific, controlled conditions. However, they do not always give a full picture of how well it will work in real life.

This is where real-world evidence can play a role. It is collected through real-life situations, for example anonymised medical records or patient registries. It tells us how the treatment performs when taken by different people all over the country.

NICE has been assessing the potential for real-world evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs.

We joined forces with 27 other organisations to deliver a project called GetReal, which aimed to demonstrate how methods of real-world evidence collection could be adopted earlier in pharmaceutical research and how the results could feature in the healthcare decision-making process.

As part of the project NICE developed an online platform called the ‘RWE Navigator.

It’s a web-based tool that aims to enhance public understanding of the role that RWE could play in the development and assessment of new drugs by providing:

  • An outline of the potential pros and cons.
  • A practical guide on how RWE can be collected.
  • A directory of projects and other authoritative sources of information on RWE.

The RWE Navigator shows the potential of evidence collected outside clinical trials. And maybe one day your medical records, anonymised to maintain your privacy, will form part of the puzzle NICE looks to solve when assessing how drugs perform in the real world.

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