The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has announced that its second report, on the uptake of medicines which it has positively appraised, will this time name the strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and cancer networks involved.  

The report, due out in November 2010, will compare the actual use of positively appraised drugs with NICE’s own estimate based on the anticipated number of eligible patients.  

The first report was published in September 2009 and was developed by the Department of Health, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, NICE and the NHS Information Centre, as part of a commitment in the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme agreement (which became effective on 1 January 2009) to publish an annual report detailing the use of NICE-appraised medicines.

The first report covered a selection of 26 treatments, over 13 technology appraisals, for conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to insomnia and asthma to motor neurone disease. Out of the 12 appraisals where a comparison could be made, observed use by the NHS in England was higher than the predicted use for 7 and lower for 5. The report was, however, at pains to emphasise that predicted and observed use can differ for a whole variety of reasons and should not therefore be assumed definitively to indicate either over- or under-prescribing.  

Eighty-one medicines are currently being considered for inclusion in this year’s report, which will reflect usage in 2009. However, a number of these drugs will no doubt be excluded from the ultimate report because of lack of good quality data. Promised improvements in this year’s report include better methodologies, more accurate estimates and an opportunity for manufacturers to aid the validation of usage data.

NICE wishes to hear from prescribing leads and relevant PCT/SHA managers on the approach proposed for this year’s report and how this information could be best utilised by the NHS. Comments should be sent to Tom.Conyers@nice.org.uk.