The United Kingdom’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has proven its worth as an independent arbiter of value-for-money when it comes to medical interventions. People may question the details of the methodology they employ to compare effectiveness of drugs and procedures, but few doubt the principle of its existence.
Unfortunately, there is no equivalent framework for assessing public health interventions. A swathe of unreliable cross0-secvtional studies have highlighted potential harms from a diverse array of sources, but particularly various components of our diet. A vocal minority is calling for action to limit these perceived “harms”. But how real is the risk? Even where the risk is proven, how much of a contributor to our overall health are these factors? There is a very real risk governments will start to intervene (through legislation or tax measures to disincentives certain behaviours) on the basis of public perception rather than a quantitive, rational and transparent assessment of the costs and benefits of such interventions.
The solution, according to DrugBaron, is to adopt the NICE methodology to estimate value-for-money of proposed public health interventions, in exactly the same way we do for medical interventions. This would be the mission of the National Academy for the Study of Things that harm You (NASTY).
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