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In a letter to UK newspaper The Times, the chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has challenged the real costs of pharmaceutical research and development.

Sir Andrew Dillon, who has headed up the UK health technology assessment (HTA) body since 1999, was responding to a comment piece by the Times’ business editor, Ian King, who quoted the figure of £1.2 billion to bring a drug to market.

“If it really does cost £1.2bn to develop a new drug, the question the pharmaceutical industry must be able to answer is this: are you absolutely confident that it needs to?” asks Sir Dillon, claiming that “this is a number that seems to go up each time it’s estimated”, although he conceded that “it clearly is expensive to develop new drugs.”

Sir Dillon refuted King’s claims that unless NICE stops restricting access to drugs then the pharmaceutical industry will stop drug development in the UK by arguing that the “research and clinical environment here holds too many advantages to do that”, although he acknowledged that “the UK has to compete hard to win its share” in a global market.

You can read Sir Andrew Dillon’s letter to The Times here: NICE responds to article in The Times

What do you think? Do you think Sir Andrew Dillon’s points raised in the letter are valid?

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