National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is an independent organisation in the United Kingdom. It provides information on health and the prevention and treatment of disease. Founded in 1999, NICE does not license medicines. Instead, it provides evidence for the NHS about whether medications and procedures give sufficient benefit to patients for the amount spent on them. NICE looks at the quality of life for one year of the patient’s life, and considers that against the cost of the treatment.
NICE’s guidelines are implemented nationwide. This prevents a ‘postcode lottery’ and ensures the whole country has the same medical care available. In 2002, NICE’s guidelines had to be implemented by law. Before then, individual NHS trusts decided what treatments were available.
NICE has been criticised for rejecting approved and licensed drugs on the basis of cost. For example, in 2006 it recommended certain drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s should only be used for severe cases. Those with mild Alzheimer’s could not access the drugs that might slow the progression of their illness.