Novartis discount sways NICE toward Tasigna

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has taken Novartis ($NVS) up on its offer of a discount on Tasigna. The cost-effectiveness watchdog gave Tasigna a preliminary thumbs-up as a second-line treatment in leukemia for patients who stop responding to the previous-generation Novartis drug Glivec, which is sold as Gleevec in the U.S.

Just exactly what that discount offer entailed isn't clear, as Novartis won't say. InPharm speculates the Tasigna discount would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10%, given the terms of previous patient-access pricing schemes. The drug costs about £30,000 a year, or more than $49,000.

Whatever it is, the cost cut was enough to put Tasigna over the top. NICE had previously determined the drug was effective at treating patients with Glivec-resistant disease, as well as those who could no longer tolerate the older therapy. But the price put the cost-effectiveness balance out of whack. NICE considered Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Sprycel equally effective, but that drug still lacks NICE's recommendation. BMS has said it will appeal the agency's decision.

The new draft guidance further notes Novartis has hiked the price of its high-dose form of Glivec, pushing the cost per patient above £40,000. Needless to say, the agency decided not to recommend the higher dose, InPharm reports.

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