Roche's Avastin rejected by NICE for colon cancer

Roche has failed to get the cancer drug Avastin on the National Health Service formulary for colorectal-cancer treatment. The U.K.'s cost-effectiveness watchdog nixed Roche's bid for NHS use, saying that none of the new information Roche submitted--not to mention the company's cost-sharing discounts--changed its mind about the drug.

Roche had proposed a fixed-cost approach to Avastin treatment, offering the drug for £20,800 ($33,550) per patient for one year's treatment. The drug would be provided for free after that. In addition, Roche had offered to reimburse the cost of companion treatment with oxaliplatin and to make an upfront payment to the government for each colorectal cancer patient using Avastin as a first-line treatment.

NICE said the cost-sharing plan was too complicated and difficult to administer, for one thing, and that the savings weren't enough to significantly affect its cost-effectiveness assessment. "The very complex [patient access scheme] proposed by Roche did not reduce the cost-effectiveness estimates by anywhere near as much as the manufacturer suggests," NICE chief Sir Andrew Dillon says in a statement.

Predictably enough, the decision was blasted by U.K. patient advocates. But as Roche pointed out in a statement, the U.K. government has set up a cancer drugs fund to allow NHS to pay for treatments NICE has rejected.

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