3 Who is involved in producing evidence summaries?

3.1 The medicines and technologies programme

The medicines and technologies programme (MTP) is part of NICE's Health and Social Care Directorate. The MTP is a team of healthcare professionals, and technical, project and administrative staff who are responsible for:

  • developing and reviewing processes and methods for producing evidence summaries

  • identifying potential topics for evidence summaries in collaboration with the NICE topic selection group

  • developing and preparing evidence summaries for publication in line with the agreed process and standards (this includes selecting and critically appraising the evidence)

  • identifying and liaising with external specialist commentators and pharmaceutical companies to ensure the content of evidence summaries is relevant and useful

  • providing quality assurance of the content of evidence summaries

  • ensuring timelines and processes for quality assurance are followed

  • reviewing uptake of published NICE guidance (technology appraisals, guidelines, and medical and diagnostic technologies)

  • estimating savings and costs of implementing guidance

  • helping organisations to overcome perceived barriers to implementing guidance through practical support.

3.2 Other NICE teams

The MTP works closely with other teams at NICE to develop evidence summaries. These include:

  • the public involvement programme (PIP) – providing advice on involving patients, carers and members of the public

  • the topic selection team – assisting in identifying and prioritising topics

  • guidance information services – assisting with topic selection and conducting literature searches

  • the technology appraisals team – ensuring there is no conflict or overlap with published, planned or proposed NICE technology appraisals

  • NICE guidelines team – suggesting topics for prioritisation and ensuring that there is synergy with published or planned NICE guidelines, including the review and updating of NICE guidelines

  • the publishing team – publishing the evidence summaries.

3.3 The NICE medicines and prescribing associate programme

NICE medicines and prescribing associates are a network of healthcare professionals for whom influencing medicines and prescribing strategy in the NHS is a significant part of their job. They work within their own NHS organisation or service and in their wider local health economy to support high-quality, cost-effective prescribing and medicines optimisation. Four regional technical advisers working within the MTP support the associates in their roles. Details of the regional technical advisers are published on the NICE website. NICE medicines and prescribing associates assist with identifying topics (see section 5.1), and external specialist commentators.

3.4 NHS England

NHS England provides commissioning decisions for medicines through specialised commissioning or clinical commissioning groups. NHS England refers priority medicines topics to NICE for developing into evidence summaries.

3.5 Pharmaceutical companies

When a topic is selected for an evidence summary, NICE informs the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the medicine that it intends to produce an evidence summary and the expected time frame. NICE invites the company to provide information to support the production of the evidence summary.

The pharmaceutical company is also invited to provide comments on a draft evidence summary within an agreed time frame. The company can comment on factual accuracy and respond to any specific questions from NICE about the information they submitted to inform the development of the evidence summary.

3.6 External specialist commentators

Specialist commentator(s) and/or specialist agencies (for example, Public Health England for an infectious disease topic) are identified by the organisation commissioning the evidence summary, existing NICE networks, national professional organisations or NICE medicines and prescribing associates (see section 3.3), and asked to review the evidence summary before publication. Specialists are identified early in the production process and provide comments within an agreed time frame. They have significant expertise in the therapeutic area for which the medicine is to be used. Their role is to clarify any issues about the reviewed evidence and the practical implications of the information contained in the evidence summary.

3.7 Prioritisation panel and topic selection group

For unlicensed and off-label use of medicines, the prioritisation panel is made up of standing members who advise NICE on topics that should be prioritised for development as an evidence summary. The panel meets twice a year. Members include lay members, representatives from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), and NHS pharmacists. Details of panel members can be found on the NICE website.

For all other medicines, a topic selection group meets monthly to discuss the topics that have been identified through the topic identification process. These meetings include representatives from several teams at NICE (such as the MTP, guidance information services and technology appraisals team) as well as representatives from the UK Medicines Information (UKMi) Service, Specialist Pharmacy Services and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Advice from the NICE medicines and prescribing associates network and the prioritisation panel is also taken into account. Topics are selected where a demand for information has been identified.

3.8 The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is invited to comment on a draft evidence summary within an agreed time frame. The role of the MHRA is to comment on regulatory and safety issues.