Britain's cost watchdog expands abroad

You already knew the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence was influential. After all, NICE doesn't just decide which meds get paid for by the National Health Service. It also tends to influence other countries' purchasing decisions as well. But now, NICE is reaching a new VIP status level, Reuters reports.

NICE now has an international arm, which offers advice to client countries or not-for-profit donors--for a fee. Clients from more than 60 countries, including government types and academics, have sought out NICE expertise. Some clients want to know how to do what NICE does--i.e., how to set up their own treatment-evaluation system.

Among the nations seeking NICE advice are poor countries where access to healthcare is growing, but budgets continue to be limited, and governments want to set priorities and balance access with affordability. Then there are the rich countries--including the U.S.--that are grappling with fast-rising healthcare costs. The biggest client so far, however, has to be China; that countries has asked NICE for help determining just how to invest $120 billion in reforming its healthcare system.

- read the Reuters story