Drugs dont make the 2013 cut on cost grounds

Pfizer’s lung cancer drug Xalkori (crizotinib).will not be available for NHS use in England and Wales according to final draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE’s chief executive, acknowledged the potential benefits of Xalkori as a personalised treatment for patients with the ALK gene mutation, which is present in about 5 per cent of people with NSCLC. But the drug is very expensive at £51,179 for a course of treatment and Pfizer even offered to cut the price somewhat..

Responding to the guidance, Pfizer criticised the NICE process for assessing drugs, claiming it did not take into account the way the trial was designed to give patients allocated chemotherapy the opportunity to receive crizotinib once their cancer had progressed.  

“The Government’s strategy for personalised care in cancer includes treating people with medicines targeted at the specific characteristics of their cancer,” said Dr David Montgomery, medical director, Pfizer Oncology UK. “Yet crizotinib has not been well served by the current assessment models employed by NICE. Today’s decision is another example of NICE declining a medicine which we strongly believe is a clinically and cost effective treatment. If this trend of negative decisions continues, we could see the UK fall even further behind other European countries for cancer survival rates“.

This rejection follows a previous one for Pfeizer’s Bosulif  in chronic myeloid leukaemia and echoes previous remarks from Roche, which has faced several NICE rejections for cancer medicines, such as Avastin (bevacizumab) and Perjeta (pertuzumab).

Both companies have also criticised the lack of clarity from the UK Government on the future of the Cancer Drugs Fund, which currently gives patients in England access to cancer medicines not recommended by NICE but is due to close in early 2014 once a new drug reimbursement system is launched in the UK.


Nov - Dec 2013 Cancer Watch
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