Professor Sir Michael Rawlins is chairman of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), part of the British National Health Service (NHS).

In a recently published article in the New England Journal of Medicine he writes about the work of this British government agency.

NICE is the independent organization responsible for providing national guidance on treatments and care for people using the NHS in England and Wales. Its guidance is intended for healthcare professionals, patients and their careers to help them make decisions about treatment and healthcare.

NICE guidance is developed using the expertise of the NHS and wider healthcare community including NHS staff, healthcare professionals, patients and carers, industry and the academic community.

Currently NICE produces guidance in three areas of health:

-- Technology appraisals - guidance on the use of new and existing medicines and treatments within the NHS in England and Wales.

-- Clinical guidelines - guidance on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS in England and Wales.

-- Interventional procedures - guidance on whether interventional procedures used for diagnosis or treatment are safe enough and work well enough for routine use in England, Wales and Scotland.

Since 1973 Professor Rawlins has been Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Newcastle, and he is also Consultant Physician and Clinical Pharmacologist to the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Trust. He was Vice-Chairman (1987-1992) and Chairman (1993-1998) of the Committee on Safety of Medicines, and is currently Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Click here for Sir Michael's article in the New England Journal of Medicine (pdf)