Process and methods

3 Who is involved in producing key therapeutic topics?

3.1 The Medicines and Prescribing Team

The Medicines and Prescribing Team is part of NICE's Health and Social Care Directorate and sits within the Medicines and Technologies Programme. The Medicines and Prescribing Team consists of a programme director, associate directors and clinical, technical, project and administrative staff. For the production of key therapeutic topics, members of the Medicines and Prescribing Team assist the NHS England Medicines Optimisation Intelligence Group in the review of existing, and the identification of new, key therapeutic topics. They are also responsible for:

  • developing and reviewing processes and methods for producing key therapeutic topics

  • prioritising and selecting therapeutic content once key therapeutic topics have been selected

  • preparing key therapeutic topics for publication, including identifying the best available evidence for each topic

  • liaising with key groups to help ensure the content is relevant and useful

  • providing editorial and technical quality assurance of the content of each key therapeutic topic

  • ensuring timelines and quality assurance standards are followed

  • reviewing and updating content of key therapeutic topics when required.

3.2 Other NICE teams

To develop key therapeutic topics, the Medicines and Prescribing Team works closely with members of other NICE teams, particularly wider NICE teams involved with medicines optimisation, to avoid overlap with other programmes and potential duplication of effort. These include:

  • Topic Selection, to assist in topic identification and prioritisation.

  • Technology Appraisals, to ensure that there is no conflict or overlap with published, planned or proposed NICE technology appraisals.

  • Clinical Guidelines, to suggest topics for prioritisation and ensure that there is synergy with published or planned NICE clinical guidelines, including the review and updating of NICE clinical guidelines.

  • Communications, to carry out an editorial review, then to publish and promote the final versions.

  • Guidance Information Services, to assist at the topic selection stage and to conduct literature searches for the development of key therapeutic topics.

3.3 NHS England

The NHS England Medicines Optimisation Intelligence Group oversees this work stream and membership includes representatives of NHS organisations, NHS England, the Department of Health, medicines and devices trade associations, NICE, NHS Digital and the NHS Business Service Authority (NHSBSA). The NHS England Medicines Optimisation Intelligence Group provides feedback on the scope and content of key therapeutic topics at various points throughout the process, but NICE approves the process and content for each key therapeutic topic.

3.4 Conflicts of interest

NICE staff are required to comply with the NICE code of conduct on conflicts of interest. For more information about how NICE deals with conflicts of interest, please see the NICE Conflicts of Interest policy.

3.5 Stage 1: Topic identification

Each year the NHS England Medicines Optimisation Intelligence Group identifies potential key therapeutic topics to be retained, retired or added to the current topics. These therapeutic topics are identified from the wide range of medicines optimisation areas of work based on the criteria defined in box 1, and include any topic suggested during previous feedback.

Box 1 Identification, prioritisation and selection criteria for key therapeutic topics

Therapeutic topic with a potential opportunity for improving quality, innovation, productivity or prevention because of:

  • a safety issue or risk:benefit issue

  • large productivity savings

  • large variations in clinical practice, with data demonstrating under usage or over usage

  • a positive technology appraisal

  • potential opportunity to prevent the development of illness or complications, including by reducing service utilisation (for example, admissions)

  • high clinician or patient interest.

3.6 Stage 2: Topic prioritisation

The NHS England Medicines Optimisation Intelligence Group prioritises topics according to the criteria defined in box 1 and produces a draft list of the key therapeutic topics to be retired, retained or added. This list is uploaded and made available online through the Medicines and Prescribing Team Key Therapeutic Topics page of the NICE website. Comments are invited on topics to be retained, retired or added for a 4-week period. Key groups involved in the production of key therapeutic topics, such as the NHS England Medicines Optimisation Intelligence Group, the Department of Health, NHS Digital and internal key NICE teams including clinical guidelines and technology appraisals, are sent an email inviting them to comment. Feedback is collated by NICE Medicines and Prescribing Team staff and responses produced for each element of feedback. A table detailing these comments and responses is published on the NICE website when the final key therapeutic topics list is published.

3.7 Stage 3: Topic selection

The NHS England Medicines Optimisation Intelligence Group considers feedback on the draft list of topics and applies the criteria defined in box 1 to the topics suggested. A final list of the key therapeutic topics selected is then produced by the NICE Medicines and Prescribing Team and confirmed by the NICE Guidance Executive. This final topic list is published on the Medicines and Prescribing Team Key Therapeutic Topics page of the NICE website.