5 Topic identification, prioritisation and selection

NICE's medicines and technologies programme (MTP) is responsible for managing topic identification, prioritisation and selection for evidence summaries.

5.1 Topic identification

Topics for evidence summaries can be identified through several different routes (see figure 1).

Figure 1 Overview of evidence summary topic identification and selection

Figure 1

Suggestions for topics are invited from NHS England, the wider NHS, partner organisations, patient groups and groups identified through the MTP surveillance activities. Potential topics must not meet any of the exclusion criteria for topic identification (see section 5.1.1). A long list of potential evidence summary topics is compiled.

5.1.1 Exclusion criteria for topic identification

Exclusion criteria are designed to filter out topics that are not suitable for developing into an evidence summary and to ensure that each topic selected will add value. The exclusion criteria are applied to the long list of potential topics.

Exclusion criteria

If a potential topic meets any of the following criteria, an evidence summary will not be developed:

  • The topic has been prioritised and referred for development into technology appraisal guidance and the appraisal consultation document will be published within 6 months of the medicine's launch.

  • The topic is already covered by an existing NICE guideline or one that is currently in development and will be published in the next year.

  • The use of the unlicensed or off-label medicine instead of licensed alternatives is being proposed solely on economic grounds.

  • The topic relates to the use of a licensed medicine for a licensed indication but by an unlicensed delivery route or in a modification to the licensed formulation.

  • The topic covers population screening or immunisation (these are normally evaluated by organisations other than NICE).

  • High-quality, up-to-date reviews are already available from a NICE-accredited source, for example, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN).

5.2 Topic prioritisation

Topics referred directly from NHS England will be prioritised. Topics identified through other routes will be prioritised using the following criteria:

Box 1 Criteria for prioritising topics for NICE evidence summaries

The following indicate when a topic will be prioritised:

Clinical impact:

  • high potential that the medicine (if effective) will significantly improve the quality of life and life expectancy for the people in whom it might be used

  • likely large population size affected

  • worsening disease severity without the medicine

  • few existing therapeutic options

  • potential safety concerns with the medicine

Variation in practice:

  • large variation in clinical practice

  • significant divergence of clinical opinion

  • reports of difficulty of access to the unlicensed medicine or off-label use of the medicine

Need for information:

  • considerable uncertainty exists on the risk:benefit balance of the medicine

  • high volume of requests from the NHS for information on the topic

Resource impact:

  • likely significant resource impact of using the medicine

Prioritisation criteria (see box 1) are applied by either NICE's MTP topic selection group or, for unlicensed or off-label use of medicines, by NICE's MTP prioritisation panel. The purpose of this stage is to engage with those who have a role in managing the introduction of medicines to healthcare communities, with their advice informing the selection of a topic for development into an evidence summary. A final, prioritised list of topics is then compiled by NICE's MTP.

5.3 Approval of topic for evidence summary

NICE's Director of Health and Social Care reviews the final list of potential evidence summaries and approves the topics which NICE should develop into evidence summaries. Once approved, the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the medicines are informed of the intention to develop the evidence summaries and the topics are added to the NICE guidance and advice in development list on the NICE website.