Want to take the temperature of the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence? Just monitor the drugs they recommend for use by the National Health Service--and those they don't. Specifically, watch the drugs and their prices.
The latest exhibit: Cimzia, UCB's rheumatoid arthritis treatment. NICE just accepted it--after the company agreed to offer the drug for free during each patient's first 12 weeks of treatment. That's a significant price break. According to The Telegraph, Cimzia will cost £5,005 (roughly $8,000) for the first year's treatment rather than £8,580 (about $13,900). And NICE will start picking up the tab only if patients respond to that first 12 weeks' worth.
It's the first new arthritis med accepted by NICE in two years. "Rheumatoid arthritis can be ... very debilitating," Carole Longson, a NICE director, says in a statement (as quoted by Bloomberg). "I am pleased that, having considered the further information we requested, the independent Appraisal Committee has been able to make a positive draft recommendation." Most recently, NICE rejected Roche's RoActemra for similar use (it will be available in Scotland, however, despite NICE's recommendation).
Price breaks obviously persuade. NICE made an about-face in December on Zeltia's Yondelis cancer drug--after Zeltia agreed to foot the bill for any patient that needs more than five cycles of treatment. The government board told Roche it would reconsider RoActemra, provided the company could prove it's cost-effective.