Price curmudgeons at NICE prep early-stage advice for VCs

In drug development circles the U.K.'s NICE is known as something of a Grinch. Developers routinely spend huge sums getting their drugs through the regulatory process only to have the agency bat them down as too expensive. And that has created some growing qualms among venture groups, which have to factor in that eventual showdown as they make their bets on new companies.

As the Financial Times explains, NICE took a moment back in 2008 to help developers understand what kind of data they needed to gather in late-stage studies if they expected to get their products past the watchdog group. Now they're moving down the pipeline, where VCs fuel early-stage work.

"We are exploring the possibility of providing advice to the investment community," Carole Longson, director of NICE's health technology evaluation center, told the Financial Times. "Our focus lies in providing clarity about the data that [need] to be generated in order to demonstrate the value of products to the healthcare system." 

SR One partner Matthew Foy gave the upcoming discussions a thumbs-up. "This could lead to better products coming to NICE, venture capitalists making better investment decisions and more funding for U.K. life sciences."

One potential hangup? NICE doesn't talk to developers for free. They charge hundreds of pounds for a workshop and thousands for a one-on-one, says the VC. But with NICE setting a pace on price which is often followed by payers around the world, that might be considered cheap. 

- here's the article from the Financial Times