Discounted Erbitux gets NICE nod

Erbitux has wangled its way onto the U.K. health service formulary after all. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence decided--after some intense lobbying and discounting by Merck Serono--to recommend reimbursement for the cancer drug in certain circumstances. They're rather tightly defined circumstances, true, but better than an outright and emphatic rejection.

NICE rejected Erbitux way back in January 2007 as a second-line treatment for colorectal cancer and again in 2008 as a first-line treatment for advanced colorectal cancer. It's also gotten the gong for use in head and neck cancer. So what's different this time? Apparently, Merck Serono churned out a new cost-effectiveness analysis--and added a 16 percent rebate to the mix.

Indeed, rebates, discounts and other cost-sharing arrangements appear to be prerequisites for NICE approval, at least when it comes to costly meds for cancer. Faced with a NICE rejection, Celgene, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson all have offered such deals to make their meds more cost-effective.

- see the Merck Serono release
- read the EuroPharma Today story