Potential changes to the NICE consultation process are being discussed - here's how it will affect pancreatic cancer patients, and how we're fighting for them:
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the body which determines whether new medicines and other treatments should be made available on the NHS in England. Clearly the way they consider new treatments, and the decisions they make as a result of those considerations, has a huge impact on the life of pancreatic cancer patients, their carers, families and loved ones. For instance, will a new drug receive funding? Or will a new technology be given the go ahead?
Importantly, the way which NICE choose new drugs and treatments to be available on the NHS is under review. We're particularly concerned that the new decision-making system could have an in-built age bias, and that the proposals to remove End of Life criteria from consideration could mean that new medicines or technologies to treat pancreatic cancer have less chance of being approved than they have at the present time. Getting Abraxane onto the Cancer Drugs Fund was a terrific step forward for treatment in England, and we want to see this progress continue. Today we've submitted a response to the NICE consultation, in which we expressed our strong concerns at the proposals being put forward.
As a charity we've argued for the End of Life Criteria not just to be retained but to be strengthened. We want to see greater weight given to the views of patients and carers and a broader measure of quality of life taken into account, moving decisions beyond the influence of pure health economics. The highly personal and moving accounts highlighted in our recent Two More Months Campaign - saying what it would mean for a patient to pass another life milestone like a birthday or a Christmas - are examples of quality of life issues not adequately picked up by the current NICE processes.
NICE will now consider our response, along with dozens if not hundreds of other responses from charities, drug and medical companies, clinicians and others, and we should know more later in the year - watch this space.