Single technology appraisals by NICE: are they delivering faster guidance to the NHS?

Pharmacoeconomics. 2008;26(12):1037-43. doi: 10.2165/0019053-200826120-00006.


Background: In 2005, a new technology appraisal process (the Single Technology Appraisal [STA]) was implemented by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), an independent agency that provides guidance to the UK NHS on the use of technology. The objective of STAs was to provide faster guidance to the NHS in order to help overcome the problems of 'NICE blight'.

Methods: Publicly available data from the NICE website and date of first marketing authorization (MA) from the Electronic Medicines Compendium were used to determine if STAs for cancer technologies have in fact been able to provide faster guidance than multiple technology appraisals (MTAs) for cancer interventions.

Results: STAs in cancer have, on average, taken 12.8 months from the date that NICE lists in the project history to guidance date. This compares with 20.7 months for MTAs in cancer. However, the time between the date of first MA and guidance is longer for cancer-related STAs than MTAs (95.1 months vs 74.6 months). The reasons for this are not clear; however, the STA programme includes examples of using an older product to treat a new cancer site, which may account for some of the differential. It may also reflect the timing that products are referred to NICE.

Conclusions: The overall results suggest that STAs may be faster once NICE looks at the specific product, but that there is a greater delay in the referral of STA products to NICE than for MTA products. However, the time taken for STAs is still short of the target of 9.75 months (or 39 weeks) [assuming no appeals].

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Approval / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • National Health Programs
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / methods
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom


  • Antineoplastic Agents