NICE nixes Sanofi's Jevtana on cost, side effects

The U.K.'s cost-effectiveness watchdog has officially snubbed the Sanofi ($SNY) prostate cancer treatment Jevtana. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence won't recommend the drug for use by the National Health Service because its benefits don't outweigh the cost or risk of side effects, the agency said.

"Although [Jevtana] has been shown to be effective in extending life, it is also associated with a number of side effects," CEO Andrew Dillon said in a statement, adding that the appraisal committee had some concerns about the quality-of-life information Sanofi submitted in support of the drug. "Once these factors had been taken in to account, the [committee] concluded that it would not provide enough health benefit to justify its cost."

Jevtana is intended to be a follow-up drug to Sanofi's Taxotere, which is a first-line treatment for the disease. NICE said Jevtana treatment would cost about £22,200 per patient, or about $34,000, for 6 courses of the drug, whereas Taxotere runs about £8,000 per patient, InPharm reports.

NICE has been taking a tough stance on expensive drugs, whether they're for cancer or chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Drugmakers who've asked the agency for its blessing have been forced to offer discounts and risk-sharing plans to gain approval--provided they win approval at all. InPharm suggests that the rejection of Jevtana could augur trouble for Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) new prostate cancer pill Zytiga, which had its first hearing at NICE last week.

- see the NICE statement
- get more from InPharm