The government has passed over the latest set of topics it wants the UK’s cost-effectiveness body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, to consider for the National Health Service.

NICE has been asked to assess whether the following drugs are an effective use of NHS resources under its fast-track single technology appraisals process, which takes around six months to complete and was introduced in 2005 to help speed up its cost evaluation of medicines selected by the government:

- Celgene’s Revlimid (lenalidomide) in combination with dexamethasone for patients with multiple myeloma who have received at least one prior therapy;
- Boehringer Ingelheim’s Rendix (dabigatran etexilate) for venous thromboembolism after elective hip or knee replacement surgery in adults;
- GlaxoSmithKline’s Tykerb (lapatinib) in combination with Novartis’ Femara (letrozole) as a first line treatment of metastatic hormone-sensitive breast cancer;
- Roche’s Xeloda (capecitabine) for advanced pancreatic cancer;
- Merck KGaA’s Erbitux (cetuximab) for first-line treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer and advanced non-small cell lung cancer; and
- Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Ixempra (ixabepilone) for metastatic or locally advanced breast cancer.

Furthermore, ministers have asked the Institute to develop clinical recommendations - which offer broader guidelines on the best care for all aspects specific conditions - on autism in children and adolescents, management of bedwetting in children, hypertension in pregnancy and severe mental illness in conjunction with problematic substance abuse, as well as guidance for two combined public health and clinical guidance topics on alcohol use disorders and on the public health topics of needle exchange schemes and improving uptake of immunisation programmes, the Department of Health confirmed.

According to health minister Dawn Primarolo, the topics selected for the Institute’s 15th work programme “shows the government’s continued commitment to ensuring that NICE tackles a wide range of issues that are important to the NHS and important to patients and their carers”.