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UK health service urges drug cost cuts

UK health service urges drug cost cuts

The UK National Health Service is negotiating with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry to reduce the cost of new drugs.

NHS is pushing for drug companies to lower the price of certain drugs to gain approval from its advisory committee, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

NICE recently dubbed bevacizumab (Avastin), sorafenib (Nexavar), sunitinib (Sutent), and temsirolimus (Torisel) as too costly for routine use in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (see “NICE says no to expensive kidney cancer drugs,” September 2008, page 13). NICE was slated to meet in September to render its final guidance on the four kidney cancer drugs. The institute published a clinical guideline on its Web site (www.nice.org.uk/Guidance/CG73/Nice- Guidance/pdf/English), but the status of the four drugs remains murky.

If NICE approves certain drugs at the lower cost, NHS said there will be clearer rules for raising the price as proof of clinical effi cacy increases. The talks are an attempt to systemize the approach to drugs as part of new regulation that is set to be finalized next year (Financial Times, October 7, 2008).

In related news, NICE maintained that lapatinib (Tykerb) and capecitabine (Xeloda) for treating advanced or metastatic HER2- positive breast cancer is not cost-effective.

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