The U.K.'s National Institute of Clinical Excellence has issued a new round of cancer-drug refusals. The drugs simply cost too much, NICE says. And to high prices, the cost-effectiveness watchdog always responds the way Queen Victoria did to a boorish guest: NICE is not amused.
Indeed, this time NICE took that lack of amusement a step further with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis, saying that the drugmakers should foot some of the bill for treating cancer patients with their drugs: Bristol's Sprycel ($47,500 a year), and Novartis' Tasigna (almost $50,000) and Afintor.
"The cost of the drugs is ... extremely high," Peter Littlejohns, NICE's clinical and public-health director, says in a statement. "It would be heartening to hear that the pharmaceutical company manufacturers are prepared to share some of the very high cost of the drugs with the NHS," he adds.
Some drug companies have offered some innovative discounts to NICE to get their meds on the National Health Service formulary, such as charging for a drug only if it works, or paying for extended treatments. But to our knowledge, NICE hasn't yet bargained publicly for these cost-sharing deals. Will it work?