Putting an end to prescribing by postcode?

NICE has announced that it will produce a guide to best practice in developing local formularies to help ensure that all patients in England have access to clinically effective and cost-effective drugs. NICE deputy chief executive Dr Gillian Leng said that, “At the moment there is no standard process for them and there tends to be a lot of variation and inconsistencies across England”.

The announcement follows publication of a Department of Health report, ‘Innovation, health and wealth‘, at the end of last year. The report said that, “There should be no local barriers to accessing technologies recommended in NICE appraisals, beyond a clinical decision relating to an individual patient.” It commented that local formulary processes should be “seen as supporting timely and planned implementation of NICE Technology Appraisals”, and they should not try to duplicate NICE assessments or to prevent the uptake of NICE-approved medicines. In fact, all these appraisal recommendations in the future should be automatically incorporated into local formularies, where clinically appropriate, within 90 days. The report also describes the other measures that will be taken to support the new regime.