Rising demands and falling government funding prompt NICE to issue proposal for firms to pay for appraisals
Providers of healthcare technologies and digital treatments will be charged as much as £300,000 to have their products assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), under government plans announced today.
NICE, an arm’s-length body of the Department of Health and Social Care, appraises a range of technologies each year with a view to making policy recommendations on their potential rollout to NHS patients. The organisation has launched a consultation on proposals to charge product-makers for such assessments.
NICE is proposing that, for a standard appraisal of a single digital-medicine product, its manufacturer would be charged about £151,000, or around £113,000 in the case of smaller firms.
Less complicated appraisals that can go through a fast-track process, and rapid reviews are available for technologies that have already been appraised once but require an update as a result of the introduction of an NHS-backed scheme to give patients access to the product. Both fast-track appraisals and rapid reviews will cost firms about £105,000, NICE proposes, or about £80,000 for SMEs.
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For appraisals of two or three products that serve the same purpose, charges will stand at about £225,000 – or about £170,000 for smaller companies – while the tariff for assessments of more than three technologies will stand at about £300,000 for larger firms and £225,000 for SMEs.
The proposed introduction of charges comes in light of rising demand for NICE’s technology appraisals, coupled with a decline in funding from central government. In the 2017/18 year, the organisation undertook a total of 70 assessments, and this is projected to rise to 78 in 2018/19. Demand is likely to grow further still, according to NICE.
The consultation paper said: “The Department of Health and Social Care is considering the potential for broadening the scope of referrals to NICE which, if agreed between DHSC, NHS England, NICE, and industry, could result in up to 20 additional technology appraisals per year.”
In both 2013/14 and 2014/15, NICE conducted 32 technology assessments over the course of the year – less than half the number that were required in the 12 months to April 2018. Concurrently, the organisation has seen yearly funding from its parent department fall by more than a fifth – from £66.4m in 2013/14 to £51.2m in the current year.
The consultation paper added: “Charging will provide a more sustainable model that enables NICE to flex its capacity in response to the pipeline of technologies that require assessment by NICE, adapt its methods and processes to different types of technology, and allow it to be more responsive to developments in the life-sciences sector.”
NICE claims that, at current demand levels, its proposed charging model will generate a little more than £10m a year.
The consultation is open until midnight on Friday 14 September, and responses can be submitted via email or using an online survey. The government is hoping to receive responses from the NHS, patient groups, local government, life-sciences companies, and the general public.