LONDON The UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence has opted to remove confidentiality from its technology appraisal process as a means of pre-empting information leaks. The decision was made at a public meeting of the NICE board on 15 November 2000.

NICE was set up in 1999 to examine drugs and advise the UK National Health Service (NHS) on the use of different products. In the past year there has been much controversy over NICE's verdicts, aided and abetted by information on preliminary proposals being leaked to the public.

Until now, NICE's policy has been to maintain confidentiality of information during its four-week consultation process. The only people supposed to have access to 'provisional determinations' are the national organisations who contributed to the appraisal and members of the institute. But in some cases there have been more than 50 consultees and NICE has been unable to prevent leaks of information....

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