Portugal to follow NICE’s footsteps, pursue cost – benefit analysis for new medicines and medical devices

June 4, 2013 | By Márcio Barra

NICE, the pricing regulatory agency of the UK

Portugal will implement a similar price – benefit evaluation as the one carried out in the UK by NICE in two months, and will begin by selecting medical devices among the 27 000 available for sale, reports the “I” journal.

This was announced yesterday by Eurico Alves Castro, president of INFARMED, the national competent authority, in a conference of the Health Cluster Portugal. The evaluation of health technologies will follow the methodologies used by NICE – the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – to select what treatments are reimbursed by the state, based on their clinical benefits and the cost needed to get said benefits. In the UK, the maximum value allowed by NICE is 20,000 pounds per year of quality-adjusted life (QALY).

To conduct this evaluation, INFARMED has created a new division, the Department for Evaluation of Health Technologies, to conduct cost – benefit analysis of medicines, medical devices and other health technologies. Until now, this type of cost – benefit analysis was only used on medicines for hospital use. The values that will be used for Portugal haven’t been decided already, said Eurico Castro Alves

Eurico Alves Castro stated that the purpose of this measure isn’t to to ration healthcare, but to streamline the available resources, offering the best possible treatment within the finite health budget of the country. “Patients won’t stop being treated with the most reasonable choices. But there are medications and devices available that have an equivalent technology, but are more accessible than other adopted alternatives’ said the President of INFARMED.

Eurico Alves Castro confirmed that this analysis will cover both drugs and medical devices, both new and already approved. For now, the work will start by assessing the 27 000 approved medical devices in the country which are covered by the state. This assessment will not prevent the marketing approval of new devices. However, the goal is to ensure uniformity and that users of the Portuguese National Health Service all have access to identical treatments for the same diagnosis.

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