When does NICE recommend the use of health technologies within a programme of evidence development? : a systematic review of NICE guidance

Louise Longworth, Jihee Youn, Laura Bojke, Stephen Palmer, Susan Griffin, Eldon Spackman, Karl Claxton
PharmacoEconomics 2013, 31 (2): 137-49

BACKGROUND: There is growing interest internationally in linking reimbursement decisions with recommendations for further research. In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) can issue guidance to approve the routine use of a health intervention, reject routine use or recommend use within a research programme. These latter recommendations have restricted use to 'only in research' (OIR) or have recommended further research alongside routine use ('approval with research' or AWR). However, it is not currently clear when such recommendations are likely to be made.

OBJECTIVES: This study aims to identify NICE technology appraisals where OIR or AWR recommendations were made and to examine the key considerations that led to those decisions.

METHODS: Draft and final guidance including OIR/AWR recommendations were identified. The documents were reviewed to establish the characteristics of the technology appraisal, the cost effectiveness of the technologies, the key considerations that led to the recommendations and the types of research required.

RESULTS: In total, 29 final and 31 draft guidance documents included OIR/AWR recommendations up to January 2010. Overall, 86 % of final guidance included OIR recommendations. Of these, the majority were for technologies considered to be cost ineffective (83 %) and the majority of final guidance (66 %) specified the need for further evidence on relative effectiveness. The use of OIR/AWR recommendations is decreasing over time and they have rarely been used in appraisals conducted through the single technology appraisal process.

CONCLUSION: NICE has used its ability to recommend technologies within research programmes, although predominantly within the multiple technology appraisal process. OIR recommendations have been most frequently issued for technologies considered cost ineffective and the most frequently cited consideration is uncertainty related to relative effectiveness. Key considerations cited for most AWR recommendations and some OIR recommendations included a need for further evidence on long-term outcomes and adverse effects of treatment.

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