Want a pass from NICE? Pile on in

Drugmakers, how would you like to bypass the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence? After all, the cost-effectiveness watchdog can delay uptake of your newly approved products by months, if not years. The National Health Service won't pay, and some other countries wait to pay, too, until NICE rules whether a drug is worth the price.

Well, you could get your wish. U.K. science and health ministers Paul Drayson and Ara Darzi propose allowing some "innovative" new drugs to be used by the NHS while NICE performs its review. This "Innovation Pass" idea would allow NICE to pick meds eligible for three-year, fast-track access.

As you can imagine, the industry hailed the proposal, which is open for discussion through November. Richard Barker, who runs the British pharma association, told Reuters the plan would "deliver truly transformational change for the life sciences industry in the U.K." We can only imagine the pharma stampede on NICE headquarters if the plan goes forward: Drugmakers will be falling over themselves to persuade the agency that their drugs are innovative enough.

- see NICE's announcement
- read the Reuters piece