NICE issues advice on biologics

NICE has published its first guide on commissioning biologic drugs for inflammatory diseases based on its appraisal recommendations.

Commissioning biologic drugs for the treatment of inflammatory disease in rheumatology, dermatology and gastroenterology identifies the potential benefits of effectively using biologic drugs for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Dr Carl Parker, General Practitioner and Joint Professional Executive Committee Chair for Hartlepool PCT and North Tees PCT, says the guide “offers practical advice on how to commission biologics for inflammatory diseases, in line with NICE recommendations” to meet the “large and potentially increasing demand”.

In the last decade the drugs have become important for treating inflammatory diseases but are considerably more expensive than conventional therapy.

The guide highlights the benefits of effectively commissioning biologics including:

· Supporting the implementation of the relevant NICE technology appraisal guidance

· Providing integrated systems for prescribing and administering biologics to patients across several disease areas

· Reducing local and regional inequalities and improving timely access to treatment

· Ensuring the safe and effective delivery to patients in accordance with NICE guidance and local clinical governance arrangements

· Preventing unnecessary costs, improving patient outcomes and reducing the need for hospital visits and surgical interventions.

Dr Parker welcomed the advice to reduce future costs when prescribing the drugs.

“The unrestricted and inappropriate use of biologic drugs could place a large financial burden on the NHS,” he said. “Therefore it is important that commissioners manage their budget proactively to ensure that all eligible patients have access to the drugs in accordance with NICE guidance. The effective commissioning of these drugs has the potential to contribute to the efficiency savings within the care pathway.

“It sets benchmarks for commissioning and provides an interactive spreadsheet to help decision makers calculate the associated costs and savings involved in any service changes.”

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