Thursday, 11 February 2010

UK Body NICE Says Novartis, Bristol Cancer Drugs Too Expensive

The U.K.'s health-cost regulator said Tuesday it was unable to recommend two expensive cancer drugs fromNovartis AG (NVS) and one from U.S.-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) for use within the state-run National Health Service in England and Wales.

The independent National Institute for Clinical Excellence, known by its acronym NICE, provisionally rejected Switzerland-based Novartis' Tasigna and U.S.-based Bristol-Myers Squibb' Sprycel for chronic myeloid leukaemia in patients who are intolerant to imatinib--an older Novartis drug whose brand name is Gleevec--saying evidence to support their effectiveness was "very poor" and their cost was "extremely high".
The independent agency also rejected Novartis's tumor treatment Afinitor as a second-line treatment for advanced kidney cancer in a draft ruling.
Commenting on Afinitor, NICE director Peter Littlejohns in a statement said "NHS resources are limited and NICE has to decide which treatments represent best value to the patient as well as the NHS. Although evidence implies that this treatment is clinically effective, there is limited data about how long it can extend life."
Turning to the body's decision not to recommend Tasigna and Sprycel, Littlejohns said that "we need to be sure they are effective. It would be heartening to hear that the pharmaceutical company manufacturers are prepared to share some of the very high cost of the drugs with the NHS."
NICE has previously struck deals with drug makers to cut the cost of treatments before recommending them for use in the National Health Service.

-By Sten Stovall, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 207 842 9292;

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