NICE wants more data on Roche arthritis drug

The U.K.'s cost-effectiveness watchdog is back on duty, this time guarding the National Health Service's pocketbook from Roche's new arthritis drug RoActemra. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's appraisal committee said it was inclined to reject RoActemra for NHS use--but that it might change its mind if the drugmaker hands over more favorable data.

Namely, NICE wants Roche to reanalyze the drug's cost-effectiveness. Sold elsewhere as Actemra, the drug competes with other existing meds such as Amgen's Enbrel (etanercept). NICE wants Roche to compare Actemra's cost and effectiveness with that of other drugs (including Genentech's Rituxan).

"We don't think that using it before trying other existing biologics such as etanercept is appropriate," NICE chief Andrew Dillon tells Reuters, "but the additional information may be important in deciding whether--and how--tocilizumab [RoActemra] can work effectively and cost effectively for patients when these treatments aren't working."

- check out the NICE appraisal
- see the Reuters story
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