NICE votes nay for Lucentis, cancer meds; yea for Eliquis

As usual when the U.K. cost-effectiveness watchdogs convene, the latest NICE meeting delivered some newsworthy decisions. Perhaps the most notable: Eliquis, from Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and Pfizer ($PFE), got the nod for preventing blood clots after hip and knee surgeries. As Reuters reports, the recommendation comes just 6 months after Eliquis was approved in Europe, so it's quite a speedy decision.

The NICE stamp of approval puts Eliquis in competition with other new-generation anti-coagulant drugs such as Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa and Bayer's Xarelto (which is marketed by Johnson & Johnson in the U.S.) Of course, the real prize for these meds isn't the post-surgery market, but the much larger field of stroke prevention. Pradaxa is the only one of the three to have the EMA's approval for that indication, plus a recommendation from NICE, while Xarelto is waiting for the European nod.

Though Eliquis got the nod, NICE stiff-armed several other drugs. Novartis ($NVS) saw its eye drug Lucentis rejected once again by the cost-effectiveness regulators, which recommended against its use for diabetic macular edema in July. This time, the nay came for another form of macular edema, because of "gaps and uncertainties" in the evidence supporting that use, Reuters reports. Lucentis still has NICE's okay for treating age-related wet macular degeneration.

Finally, NICE weighed in on three cancer drugs: Amgen's ($AMGN) Vectibix, Merck KGaA's Erbitux, and Roche's Avastin as second-line treatments for advanced colon cancer. The drugs didn't clear the lower-than-usual bar for end-of-life treatments, NICE said. The lack of convincing evidence of these drugs' benefits--especially in the case of Avastin, NICE CEO Andrew Dilllon said--prompted the appraisal committee to decide against them.

- see the news from Reuters
- get the InPharm story
- here's more from Reuters on the Lucentis rejection
- read the PharmaTimes coverage