The NCPE evaluates new medicines to check their:

  • comparative effectiveness (how well they treat a patient’s condition compared with other ways to manage the condition);
  • cost effectiveness (value for money); and
  • effect on the HSE budget (budget impact).

We send our recommendations to the HSE to help them decide whether or not to provide a medicine.

We carry out two types of assessments:

A Rapid Review is the first step in the drug reimbursement process. All medicines undergo Rapid Review as part of the drug reimbursement process. The NCPE endeavour to complete Rapid Reviews in approximately four weeks. The Rapid Review assessment report consists of the following information:

  • An overview of current clinical practice and treatment options for the disease
  • An overview of how well the drug works compared to current clinical practice
  • An overview of the drug cost and likely budget impact
  • Information on cost-effectiveness assessments in other countries.

The outcome of a Rapid Review is a recommendation to the HSE on reimbursement, or the need for a full health technology assessment (HTA). An overview of our Rapid Review recommendations is provided . Products with a high cost relative to potential comparators and/or those with a net impact on the drugs budget will be subjected to a full HTA. Similarly, products where there is a query in relation to the comparative clinical efficacy and/or value for money will also be selected for formal HTA.

Applicant companies can submit a Rapid Review application at any point following receipt of a positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). For more information on how to submit a Rapid Review, please click here.

This assessment gives us a comprehensive overview of how a new medicine might affect the health service. We will do a HTA if there is a question about the clinical effectiveness and/or the cost effectiveness of the medicine. We carry out a HTA on all new medicines with a high cost compared with existing treatments and/or a high impact on the drugs budget, or if there is uncertainty related to the cost. HTAs can take several months to complete.

We publish the outcomes of Rapid Reviews and Health Technology Assessments on our website ( under the ‘Pharmacoeconomic Evaluations’ tab.

Below, we explain possible recommendations first for Rapid Reviews and then for Health Technology Assessments.

The plain English interpretation of our recommendations are intended as a guide to understanding why a particular recommendation was made, and are not intended to be an exhaustive explanation of every scenario that is encountered.

We send our recommendations to the HSE to help them decide whether or not to provide a medicine.

Queries on the reimbursement process and next steps once a recommendation has been issued should be directed to the CPU at [email protected] .