NICE clears Pierre Fabre's targeted melanoma combo to take on Novartis, Roche drugs

Cost watchdogs in England signed off on a new targeted melanoma combo from Pierre Fabre. (Pixabay)

Thanks to new guidance from England’s drug cost watchdog, Novartis and Roche will be getting some fresh targeted melanoma competition from French pharma lab Pierre Fabre. 

In guidance published Friday, England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence signed off on Pierre Fabre’s combo of Braftovi and Mektovi to treat adult patients with unresectable or metastatic BRAF V600 mutation-positive melanoma. The drugs won European approval in September and are challenging the Swiss cancer drug giants, which market Tafinlar/Mekinist and Zelboraf, respectively. 

NICE endorsed the Pierre Fabre meds as cost-effective under a commercial arrangement that includes a confidential discount. According to NICE, Braftovi costs £1,400 for 42 tablets and Mektovi costs £2,240 for 84 tablets. Pierre Fabre, which developed the combo, has global rights to the drugs outside of select markets.

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Array BioPharma has U.S. and Canadian rights, while Ono Pharmaceutical has rights in Japan and South Korea. 

NICE reviewers concluded that the drug combo is as effective or more effective than the other treatments from Roche and Novartis, and that it may have a better safety profile. Patients and doctors would welcome another targeted treatment combo, the reviewers said. 

RELATED: Ready to challenge Novartis and Roche, Array scores FDA nod for melanoma combo 

Braftovi and Mektovi won U.S. approval in June and entered a field occupied by top cancer players. Both Big Pharma companies are practiced at oncology marketing and their drugs have the advantage of a head start. But in an interview last year, Array CEO Ron Squarer told FiercePharma the field of prescribers is “very concentrated,” so he expected his biotech could cover the ground with a small sales force. 

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