Avastin snubbed yet again by U.K. cost agency

While U.S. regulators debate Roche's Avastin as a breast cancer treatment, U.K. watchdogs aren't even convinced that the drug works well enough against bowel cancer, one of its key indications. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence once again rejected Avastin for use in patients with advanced bowel cancer--in spite of new-and-better pricing from Roche.

The company previously had offered to supply Avastin at a fixed price of £20,800 ($32,430) per patient for one year; the drug would be free after the first 12 months of treatment, and Roche would also reimburse NICE for the cost of accompanying chemo with oxaliplatin. Under the new pricing offer, Roche stuck to this pricing deal, but added an upfront payment to the National Health Service for each patient who started first-line treatment with Avastin, NICE said.

It wasn't enough, NICE chief Andrew Dillon says in a statement: "We are disappointed not to be able to recommend [Avastin]...but we have to be confident that the benefits justify the considerable cost of this drug."

Predictably, the refusal has NICE critics up in arms--including Roche. According to the company, the U.K. "is now virtually the only country in the developed world not to provide Avastin for bowel cancer patients through the state healthcare service," providing "further evidence that the current U.K. reimbursement system is not appropriate for end of life cancer treatments."

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