NICE to green-light costly kidney meds

A much-lamented ban on new kidney cancer drugs in the U.K. will soon be lifted, the Guardian reports. Of four meds that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence called too expensive for National Health Service use, at least half will be approved--and perhaps all four, the paper writes.

As you know, NICE recently ruled that Pfizer's Sutent, Bayer's Nexavar, Wyeth's Torisel, and Roche's Avastin didn't ace the cost-benefit analysis all NHS drugs are expected to pass. According to NICE's calculations, the drugs were too costly for the additional survival time kidney cancer patients tended to experience when using them. Patient advocates immediately pounced, and a public outcry ensued.

Now, however, sources are telling the Guardian that NICE will OK Sutent next month, when a committee meets to discuss the drugs again. Either Avastin or Nexavar is likely to get the nod, too, the sources said.

This turnabout by NICE follows some pricing negotiations between the agency and drugmakers. The companies have offered some new pricing schemes for the meds, including discounts and risk-sharing.

- read the Guardian story
- see the post at Pharmalot