Sanofi discount spurs NICE to flip the switch on Jevtana


The U.K.’s cost-effectiveness gatekeepers are known to change their minds every now and then, particularly where discounts are involved. And now, they’ve reversed a negative recommendation they made on a Sanofi ($SNY) prostate cancer med.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has backed the French drugmaker’s Jevtana for some prostate cancer patients, it said Friday, marking a departure from an appraisal squad’s earlier draft guidance. Initially, concerns over the med’s cost-effectiveness compared with its rivals--such as quick-launch prostate cancer pills Zytiga from Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Xtandi from Astellas and Medivation ($MDVN)--held the watchdogs back, but Sanofi has since deepened its price cut and offered to supply the treatment in bags instead of vials, which NICE says will reduce waste.

“This is an excellent example of how pharma companies can work with us to ensure that patients have access to all of their treatment options,” Carole Longson, director of NICE’s Center for Health Technology Evaluation, said in a statement.

According to NICE, though, Sanofi won’t actually see a boost in the number of patients receiving its therapy. Over the past few years, U.K. patients have had access to the med via the country’s Cancer Drugs Fund, which provides coverage of some NICE-rejected cancer therapies. More than 550 patients received Jevtana between 2013 and 2015, the body said.

Sanofi is looking in other directions when it comes to bolstering revenue from prostate cancer meds, though. It recently reached out with an unsuccessful bid for Medivation, which markets Xtandi in the U.S. at a cost of $129,000 a year. While Medivation rebuffed its offer, the pharma giant hasn’t ruled out launching a hostile takeover effort, reports say.

- read NICE's release 

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