NICE rebuffs Bayer on Nexavar

Bayer once again lost its bid to persuade the U.K.'s cost-effectiveness watchdog that Nexavar is worth the price as a liver cancer treatment. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence says its decision is final.

Nexavar's rejection for use by Britain's National Health Service came even under a new NICE model for evaluating treatments that could possibly extend the lives of patients, NICE chief Andrew Dillon said. "[T]he price is simply too high to justify using NHS money," Dillon said (as quoted by Bloomberg). The cost of Nexavar "couldn't be justified by its marginal benefit," NICE says in a statement.

Just what cost-benefit info was NICE considering? The agency says that Nexavar extended the lives of liver cancer patients by an average of 2.8 months at a cost of £27,000 ($38,850). To sweeten the deal, Bayer had offered a buy-three-get-one-free deal, but that wasn't enough to sway the agency. Bayer co-markets the drug with Onyx Pharmaceuticals.

The cost and availability of cancer drugs has been an ongoing issue in the U.K. (and in the U.S., for that matter). NICE has rejected some drugs to public outcry, and in response the agency promised to reconsider the cost and benefits of drugs for terminally ill patients. And in some cases, drugmakers have offered risk-sharing deals through which the NHS pays for a drug only if it works, as well as other creative arrangements to mitigate the costs. In some cases, that strategy has worked. But in Nexavar's case, it didn't.

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