NICE continues cancer rejections with Tarceva

The U.K.'s cost-effectiveness watchdog strikes again. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence refused to adopt Roche's Tarceva pill as a maintenance drug for lung-cancer patients. The "No" came despite Roche's offer to discount the drug by 14.5 percent.

Even after the discount, however, Tarceva would cost the National Health Service 1,395 pounds, or $2,000, for a month's supply. And NICE took issue with the economic model Roche submitted in support of the new indication, Reuters reports. "These issues led the committee to conclude that, on current evidence, the cost of the drug related to the benefits it brings means that [Tarceva] would not be a good use of NHS money," NICE chief Andrew Dillon said in a statement.

According to Reuters, trial data have shown that Tarceva can extend lung cancer patients' lives by about 3.3 months. It is approved by NICE as a second-line treatment. "[W]e are disappointed not to have been able to recommend the drug as a maintenance treatment as well," Dillon said. It's not the agency's final guidance, however; that will be issued in the fall.

The cost-effectiveness agency has issued several new decisions on cancer drugs in recent days. Just last week, NICE rejected a GlaxoSmithKline patient-access scheme--a.k.a. cost-sharing deal--on its breast-cancer pill Tyverb. And in May, the agency rejected another bid from Bayer to get its kidney cancer drug Nexavar accepted as a treatment for liver cancer.

- get the release from NICE
- see the NICE appraisal
- read the Reuters news