The Health Secretary Alan Johnson has put forward the next group of topics to be assessed under the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s fast-track programme.

In all, 12 technologies have been selected for the Institute’s Single Technology Appraisals process, which was brought in in 2005 to help speed up its cost evaluation of certain medicines selected by the government.

The STA process takes around six months to complete, compared to some 12-14 months for the standard Multiple Technology Appraisal, which looks at groups of products already on the market to compare them with each other. Assessment is based purely on evidence supplied by the manufacturer or sponsor, and the aim is to provide guidance within eight weeks of the product’s approval.

The topics in this round of referrals are:

- Bayer and Onyx’ Nexavar (sorafenib) for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma;

- Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Sprycel (dasatinib) for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia;

- Novartis’ Tasigna (nilotinib) for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia;

- GlaxoSmithKline’s Promacta (eltrombopag) for refractory chronic immune (idiopathic) thrombocytopenic purpura (a low patelet count disorder);

- Amgen’s AMG 531 for refractory chronic immune (idiopathic) thrombocytopenic purpura;

- B-MS’ Orencia (abatacept) for juvenile idiopathic arthritis;

- Gilead’s Viread (tenofovir) for chronic hepatitis B;

- Sanofi-Aventis’ xaliproden for Alzheimer’s disease;

- Eli Lilly’s prasugrel for acute coronary artery syndromes with percutaneous coronary intervention

- Novo Nordisk’s Levemir (detemir) for type 1 diabetes mellitus;

- Schering-Plough’s Temodar (temozolomide) for advanced and metastatic melanoma; and

- Liposomal muramyl tripetide phosophatidyl ethanolamine as an addition to adjuvant chemotherapy for newly diagnosed, non-metastatic, resectable osteosarcoma.

In addition, the Institute will assess: Sprycel and Tasigna for imatinib-resistant chronic myeloid leukaemia; GSK’s Hycamtin (topotecan) for relapsed small cell lung cancer; and Abbott’s Humira (adalimumab) and Wyeth/Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept) for polyarticular juvenile arthritis under its MTA process.