NICE report on only in research status for health interventions

24 May 2007

The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has released the report from its citizen’s council (a group of 30 members of the public selected as representative of the UK population). NICE provides national guidance on promoting good health and preventing and treating ill health; the council met in January 2007 to consider the question:In what circumstances is it justified for NICE to recommend that an intervention is used only in the context of research?

The report, which is available for public comment before it is presented to the NICE Board in July 2007, lists circumstances that should be taken into account when NICE is deciding whether or not to make an “only in research” (OIR) recommendation. Many of these are practical; for example, a study must be: feasible; already completed, in progress or due to start soon; represent good value for money; and likely to answer well defined, unresolved questions NICE has about the intervention in question. The report notes that OIR recommendations “should not be used as a way of ducking the need to say “no” to interventions that are excessively costly”, but also says that NICE “should resist the attempts of patient groups, the media and other bodies that may wish to pressurise it into choosing an OIR decision when a “no” decision is the more appropriate response”.

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