AZ's Faslodex loses out in NICE appraisal

You win some and you lose some, especially at the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Just look at AstraZeneca ($AZN). A few days ago, the company got a thumbs up from NICE for its new blood thinner Brilique. Now, the cost-effectiveness watchdog has issued the opposite opinion on AstraZeneca's cancer drug Faslodex.

Faslodex wouldn't be a cost-effective use of National Health Service resources, NICE said in a final appraisal on the drug, because it doesn't appear to be significantly better at treating breast cancer than other, existing therapies.

AstraZeneca had submitted data seeking to show that Faslodex could extend patients' lives longer than aromatase inhibitors such as Novartis' Femara and AZ's Arimidex do. But after reviewing that evidence, NICE called that conclusion "considerably uncertain," Reuters reports. Then there's the matter of cost: A month's supply of generic Arimidex costs ₤5.99 and Femara runs ₤84.86, while Faslodex costs ₤1,044 for the first month and ₤522 monthly after that.

"[W]hile there is evidence that [Faslodex] can delay the growth of breast cancer ... its effectiveness is uncertain compared to aromatase inhibitors," NICE CEO Andrew Dillon said (as quoted by Dow Jones). "As [Faslodex] has not been proven to be cost-effective, we cannot justify diverting NHS funds from other areas of healthcare in order to fund its use."

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